Forty Clove Cornish Hens with Lemon and Oregano


Roasted garlic's buttery texture and sweet flavor are intensified when it is tucked inside and underneath the skin of Cornish game hens in this variation on chicken with forty cloves of garlic.


  • 40 cloves garlic, peeled, large cloves halved

  • 13 sprigs fresh oregano

  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and cut into ¼-inch half moons

  • 1 rib celery, cut into ¼-inch crescents

  • 2 dried bay leaves

  • 3 Cornish game hens

  • 3 lemons, cut into quarters lengthwise

  • ¼ cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 to 1 cup homemade or low-sodium canned chicken stock, skimmed of fat

  • 1 ½ teaspoons unsalted butter, melted


  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Cut 6 garlic cloves crosswise into very thin slices. Set aside in a small bowl. In another small bowl, set aside 12 cloves. Pick leaves from 3 or 4 sprigs oregano, and set aside in a small bowl. Set aside 3 sprigs oregano. Place remaining garlic cloves and oregano, onion, celery, and bay leaves in the bottom of a medium nonstick roasting pan.

  2. With your finger, gently loosen the skin on the breast of the hens. Gently slide a few garlic slices and a few oregano leaves under the skin in a single layer. Place 4 garlic cloves, 1 sprig oregano, and 2 lemon wedges in the cavity of each hen; set aside remaining lemon wedges.

  3. Tie each hen's legs together with kitchen twine. Tuck wings under breast; place hens in pan over the garlic mixture.

  4. Add wine and 1/2 cup chicken stock to pan. Brush the skin with melted butter; transfer pan to oven.

  5. Cook, basting occasionally and adding more chicken stock to pan if dry, until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees when measured with a meat thermometer, 45 to 60 minutes. Remove hens from pan, and set aside on a board to rest 5 minutes before serving with reserved lemon wedges.

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