Monday, September 8, 2008

Parmesan Crusted Cornish Hens in the Dutch Oven

Looks like this is turning into a kind of a poultry month here at the Black Pot, eh? I didn’t plan that, but I’m sure liking it. This week, my wife and I found some frozen Cornish hens on sale and picked up three of them for our Sunday dinner.

I’ve seen these things in the store millions of times, and thought how fun it would be to cook them up. They seem so exotic and different, like little compact chickens.

In fact, there’s this apocryphal story about someone stuffing the body cavity of a turkey with a Cornish hen at a family Thanksgiving gathering, and then freaking everyone out when they discover the bird they’d just cooked and eaten was pregnant! I guess in the surprise everyone forgets that turkeys also hatch from eggs, and that it’s not likely that the turkey would live long with it’s child taking up all the space that the turkey’s unessential organs would normally be using… Or the fact that the “baby” bird was cleaned and plucked…

For this and other good turkey stories, see

But I digress…

I looked over the ‘net and tried to find a good recipe. I found lots, and had a bit of trouble trying to narrow it down to one that I wanted to do. I found one that was crusted with a flour, parmesan, and herbal paste, and I thought I’d try that one. As I made it, I had some trouble getting the paste to stick to the bird, but in the end it worked. The recipe below isn’t the exact one from the web, but I think it will work better, based on my experience. In any case, my wife pronounced it fabulous.

Parmesan Crusted Cornish Hens in the Dutch Oven

12” Dutch Oven

18+ coals above
8-9 coals below

  • 2-3 cornish hens (1 hen serves two)

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 pinch salt, coarse ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Enough olive oil to make a paste

I started by thawing the hens in the sink for hours (I don’t know how many), and then opening them out of the plastic packs, draining them and patting them dry.

I mixed all the other ingredients, and then attempted to mud up the hens with the paste. Like I said, I did have a difficult time making the paste stay on, but I did finally manage. I tried basting on a bath of whipped egg, but I’m not really sure that helped. I placed the three hens squished side-by-side in my 12” shallow dutch oven. I put that on the coals, for about an hour to an hour and a quarter.

Then, while that was cooking, I made some rice in my 8” dutch oven.

Mark’s Dutch Oven Whatever Ya Got Rice

8” Dutch Oven

6 coals below
10 coals above

  • 1 cup rice
  • 2 cups water
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 onion, quartered and sliced
  • Chopped green onions
  • 1 stalk of celery, sliced
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Generous outpouring of lemon juice

All these things I just dumped into my little 8” dutch oven and put on top of the 12” with some additional coals on top. It really is a “Whatever Ya Got” dish. If I’d had other veggies I woulda put them in instead.

I really like the taste of lemon rice under poultry, so I was thinking it would compliment really nicely. I was right.

When it was all cooked and came time to serve, the birds were actually more meaty than I’d originally thought when I’d bought them, so I cut each one in half down the spine line. It was actually pretty easy once they were cooked. Then I served the half on top of the bed of rice. It was great!


  1. Glad to see you posting again. I don't cook in my oven nearly enough and it is great to live through your blogs.

    Planning a DOG event.. you interested?

  2. This recipe looks really good. A bunch of us are doing dutch oven this weekend. I think I might have to try this for my contribution to the meal.

  3. Bop: If you do, I'd LOVE to hear about how it turns out back here. I'd bet it would be yummy with ordinary chicken, too.




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