Christmas Cornish Hens

As we approach the holidays, we are pleased to share a seasonal suggestion each Sunday. Here is a simple and scrumptious recipe for Christmas Cornish Hens.

As a youngster, I remember St. Ives being a special place at Christmas time, though the weather could be difficult. We were not wealthy, but we had each other, a roaring fire to keep us warm and dry, carols to fill the air, and my mother and grandmother fussing over the Cornish hens. Though both passed long ago, their spirit remains with us during the holidays, as does this recipe. ~ Carolyn Boyd, St. Ives, Cornwall



4 Cornish hens
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons honey
12 slices bacon or pancetta
6 leeks, trimmed, chopped into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Stuff the hens with onions. Brush all over with honey; cover the breast of each with 3 slices bacon or pancetta. Settle into a roasting pan. Toss the leeks with the oil; add to the pan, tucking them in around the birds. Season with the salt and pepper to taste. Roast 45-60 minutes. If the bacon begins to blacken, cover hens with foil. Remove the birds from the pan; keep warm. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the leeks to a serving dish; keep warm. Tilt the pan to one side; skim away any fat. Pour a little hot water into the roasting pan; set over high heat. Heat to a boil, scraping up any crispy bits from the bottom of the pan; simmer for a few minutes. Pour the pan sauce into a gravy boat or pitcher; serve with the hens and the leeks.