GastroChef – Grain Free Gastronomy

Grain/sugar/gluten-Free Living! (SCD/Paleo/GAPS friendly)

GastroChef’s Herb and Citrus Cornish Hen


Cornish game hen’s, perhaps a meat you walk past, unsure how to cook or question why that chicken is so small, is in fact an incredibly tasty bird.  Despite it’s small size these tiny chickens can make for the perfect entrée’s to impress your guests and family.  After much experimenting with various ways to cook these tiny birds (which is the tastiest form of experimentation) I have put together what has now become my staple recipe.

Step 1: The Brine

Brine is simply a heavy salt solution often made in a vegetable stock with spices that your meat soaks in. The salt creates a concentration gradient between the cells in the meat and the solution.  Because of this difference in salt concentration the solution and spices rush into the meat to equalize the difference through osmosis and diffusion.   However, what creates that juicy tender meat is the fact that, as salt flows in, it breaks down proteins within the cells. As these molecules become more concentrated water and stock flow into the meat to again equalize the difference and hydrate the meat.

Enough science, Brining simply makes cooked meat moister by super hydrating the meat before cooking. With chicken this is important as over cooking any bird will result in dry, often inedible meals.


Do not reduce the salt in this brine in an attempt to make it more “healthy”. Without the right amount of salt the brine will simply soak the bird and not allow for the flavours and stock to enter the meat.  I use kosher salt as is recommended for most brines but should you not have any, table salt will do.


1 Tbsp Table salt = 2 Tbsp Kosher salt

Step 2: Stuffing your Bird

Often when it comes to whole birds you stuff the bird with what you intend to serve as a side (re: thanksgiving stuffing). However, with smaller birds (as we have done with our duck) it is wise to stuff with citrus fruits to ensure the bird stays hydrated throughout the baking process. Use either a cut up orange or whatever citrus fruits you have on hand with a bit of rosemary and thyme and you got yourself a tasty hen with a nice citrus taste.

Step 3: Spice rub

My advice is to never make something overly complicated for a spice rub. Get some basil, oregano, pepper and olive oil and rub down your bird.  These herbs are fairly light and will complement the citrus flavor that will be gained from the stuffing.

Step 4: Nom nom nom



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