Fennel-Scented Cornish Game Hens


Fennel-Scented Cornish Game HensRecipe courtesy of Pam McKinstry of svkitchen.com
Serves 3 to 6


  • 3 Cornish game hens, about 1½ to 2 pounds (0.7 to 0.9 g) each
  • 6 large cloves garlic confit
  • 1 1/2 generous teaspoons (7.5 ml) finely minced preserved lemon
  • 3tablespoons (45 ml) fennel pollen
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons (42.5 g) unsalted butter, cut in half
  • Olive oil



  1. Fill and preheat the SousVide Supreme  to 155F/ 68C.
  2. Thoroughly wash the hens in cold water and pat them dry.
  3. Spatchcock the hens:
    1. Position the hens, breast side down,  on a stable cutting surface.
    2. With poultry shears, insert one blade of the shears  into the cavity just beside the backbone, cut up one side of the backbone, then down the other, and remove it. Repeat with other hen.
    3. Spread the cavities apart and seek the diamond-shaped breast bones. Carefully use the tip of a sharp paring knife to cut around the edges  of each breast bone all the way around, without cutting into the meat. Loosen each bone and lift it from the cavity, snipping attachment points as needed with the shears, and remove it.
    4. Splay the legs to flatten the spatchcocked birds and set them on a large plate, cutting board, or a piece of wax paper.
  4. Meanwhile, mash the garlic confit with the preserved lemon to make a paste.
  5. Spread a third of the paste on each of the birds, rubbing it on both the skin side and the cavity side.
  6. Sprinkle the fennel pollen on both sides of each of the birds and liberally season with salt and pepper.
  7. Put each hen into its own cooking pouch and vacuum seal.
  8. Refrigerate the hens until the water bath is at temperature.
  9. Submerge the pouches in the water oven to cook for at least 5 hours.
  10. Remove the pouches from the water oven and open them immediately, being careful to retain all of the cooking juices.
  11. Set the hens aside and let them rest for 10 to 15 minutes while you make the sauce.
  12. In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce the accumulated juices from the cooking pouches by half.
  13. Just before serving, whisk in one piece of the butter. When it has melted, whisk in the remaining piece. Keep the sauce warm while you finish the hends.
  14. To finish the hens on the grill:
    1. Heat a barbeque grill on high. Make sure the grate is very clean, to keep the delicate skin from sticking.
    2. Drizzle the skin side of the hens with a little bit of olive oil and put them, skin side down, on the grill.
    3. Cook until the skin is crisp and golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If desired, turn the birds over and cook for another minute.
  15. To finish the stovetop:
    1. Heat a ridged cast-iron pan over high heat until very hot.
    2. Drizzle the hens with a little olive oil and put them, skin side down, in the pan.
    3. Cook until the skin is crisp and golden, about 3 to 4 minutes. If desired, turn the birds over and cook another minute.
  16. Serve hot with the reduced cooking juices.
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