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Cornish Hens and Citrus-Scented Roasted Vegetables

Cornish Hens and Citrus-Scented Roasted Vegetables


  • 2 pounds baby potatoes

  • 3 leeks, trimmed of 3-4 inches of rough greens and roots

  • 3 carrots

  • 1 fennel bulb

  • 1 lemon, zested and halved

  • 1 orange, zested and halved

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

  • Salt and black pepper

  • 2-3 fresh or dried bay leaves

  • 2 Cornish hens, split lengthwise, cleaned and dried

  • 6-7 fresh thyme sprigs, leaves stripped and chopped

  • Crusty bread to pass at the table (a whole grain baguette is tasty with this meal)


Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Slice the potatoes crosswise into thirds and place in a roasting pan. Halve the leeks lengthwise and slice into half-inch half-moons. Wash the leek slices in a large bowl of water or by tossing vigorously in a colander under cold running water. Separate the layers to free the grit. Wrap the leeks in a towel to dry them, then toss in with the potatoes. Peel the carrots and slice them half-inch thick on an angle. Trim off the tops of the fennel bulb and chop and reserve a few fronds. Quarter the bulb, cut away the core and slice the bulb thin. Add the fennel to the roasting pan. Add a tablespoon or so each of the lemon zest and orange zest to the mix and coat the vegetables in about 1⁄4 cup of the EVOO (eyeball it). Season the vegetables liberally with salt and pepper and toss in the bay leaves. Coat the hens in a couple more tablespoons of the EVOO and season with salt pepper and the thyme. Set the birds on top of the vegetables, skin side up, and roast for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, reduce the heat to 375°F and roast the hens for another 30 minutes. Squeeze the juice of one lemon half and one orange half over the hens and vegetables when you remove them from the oven. Serve the birds and roasted veggies directly from the roaster. Pass some bread for mopping up the pan juices.