Cornish Hens with Pomegranate and Bay Leaves
Here’s one of the easiest and most elegant one-pan roasts we know. The hens stay particularly moist as they bake over a mixture of shallots, pomegranate chunks and white wine.
- 2 Cornish hens, each about 1 1/2 pounds, any giblets removed, hens patted dry
- 3 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, divided
- 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 shallots, halved
- 1 large pomegranate cut into chunks, divided
- 8 fresh bay leaves
- 3/4 cup white wine
Preheat the oven to 400˚F. Lift the skin up from breast of hens and work 1/2 tablespoon butter under skin and over breast of each; smooth the skin back in place. Rub hens inside and out with remaining 2 tablespoons butter (if hens are cold, the butter may not spread easily; if so, melt butter and brush on). Sprinkle hens all over with salt and pepper. Place in a roasting pan or large non-reactive (not cast-iron) rondeau and surround with shallots. Add half of the pomegranate to the pan; reserve remaining half. Add bay leaves to the pan and pour in wine.
Roast until hens are deeply browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh (not touching bone) registers 165˚F or juices run clear when the tip of a paring knife is inserted into thighs, 45 to 50 minutes.
Let hens rest 10 minutes. Remove seeds from remaining pomegranate. Split each hen in half down the backbone with a knife or kitchen shears. Serve hens with shallots and roasted pomegranate pieces (diners can scoop out seeds but shouldn’t eat the peel). Spoon pan juices over top. Discard bay leaves and scatter hens with fresh pomegranate seeds.