Friday, August 7, 2015

Dutch Oven Cornish Game Hens with Red Potatoes

For Easter this past spring, my husband decided he wanted to cook Cornish Game Hens in the Dutch oven.  I was totally on board, and am I ever glad!  They were sooooo beautiful and delicious!

Here's how we did it.  The amounts below aren't exact; adjust the recipe to suit the size of your Dutch oven and/or how many people you are serving.  We serve 1 whole Cornish game hen per person, the kids just LOVE having their own "little chicken." 

Dutch Oven Cornish Game Hens with Red Potatoes
Serves as many people as there are hens

Red potatoes, scrubbed and whole if small, halved or quartered if bigger, to at least cover bottom of Dutch oven
thinly sliced bacon (2 slices per hen)
2-3 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh rosemary sprigs
1 Cornish game hen per person

We used a 16" round Dutch oven for 7 Cornish hens.

Layer potatoes on bottom of Dutch oven, scatter shallots and rosemary on top and season with salt & pepper.  Nestle hens on top of potatoes.  Top hens with bacon (my husband liked an "X" of bacon on each hen), more shallots and rosemary, and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Prepare charcoal for cooking.  My husband says the general Dutch oven rule is "2 under and 2 over" the diameter of your oven, so for a 12" oven you'd start with 10 hot briquettes evenly spaced under the Dutch oven and 14 hot briquettes on top.

That being said, he cooked our hens quite a long time, and used more charcoal to speed things up.  He probably cooked for about 2 hours total, adding more hot coals as needed.  Every half hour, he rotates the pot and the lid (spin without lifting) in opposite directions to eliminate any hot spots.  He says Dutch ovens are very forgiving, so it's hard to go wrong.  More charcoal makes things cook faster, and it's kind of hard to burn them.  You want to cook your hens until they are golden and the joints move freely, and potatoes are tender.

This dish is flavorful and aromatic, and perfect for a special occasion.  The potatoes end up in the savory juices from the bacon and chickens, which makes a fine topping or you could make it into gravy on the stove top.

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