Dinner / Seasonal - Fall
Oven Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Pumpkin Seed Pesto
Tools You'll Need
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Chef’s Knife
- Cutting Board
- Small Skillet
- Food processor or blender
- Roasting Pan
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds, unsalted
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ cup water
- 1 cup fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped
- 2 green onions, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, zested
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- Kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 4 Cornish game hens, gizzards discarded
Heat pumpkin seeds
In a large skillet over medium heat, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, the pumpkin seeds, ½ teaspoon salt (no salt needed if you are using pre-salted seeds), and 1 teaspoon paprika.
Cook seeds for about about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the seeds begin to lightly brown and become aromatic. Be careful not to burn them.
Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
Transfer the seeds and oil to a food processor or blender, add ½ cup water, the parsley, green onion, lemon juice, and pulse until pureéd.
Set pesto side
Remove about 3 tablespoons of the pesto for the hens and set aside the rest for serving.
Loosen hen breast
Slide your fingers under the breast skin of each hen to loosen.
Slide 2 heaping teaspoons of the pesto under the skin of each hen and rub the pesto all over.
Mix additional seasonings
In a separate bowl, mix the garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon paprika, and lemon zest, then rub all over the outside of the hens.
Refrigerate, uncovered, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 400º.
Place hens in oven
Put the hens on a rack in the lower half of the oven in a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet breast side up.
Roast, rotating the pan halfway through until the skin is golden brown, and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh register degrees 164º, and the juices run clear—about 1 hour. Let rest 15 minutes.
Serve with the reserved pesto on the side.