Bacon wrapped Cornish hens make an impressive-looking main without too much effort. All the tastiness of a larger roast with less cooking time.
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I don't know about anyone else, but much as I love turkey and other bone-in roasts, I hate serving them when we have guests over for one simple reason. Carving. I have memories of cooking turkey for a big group years ago and I hate to think how long it took to carve it all up. And inevitably it was either cold (or if you put it back in the oven to stay warm, dry) by the time everyone got it.
A perfect compromise is Cornish hens. They're the ideal single-serve portion so there's no carving for you as host, but you get all that delicious flavor of roast meat. Even better, is these bacon wrapped Cornish hens which have a super flavorful, crispy "coat". So easy, but so delicious and sure to impress your guests.
The inspiration for these bacon wrapped Cornish hens
My mum always put bacon over her turkey for Christmas and it's a tradition I have continued. The only thing is while I loved it in principle, the bacon could get a little over-crispy. Making bacon wrapped Cornish hens instead not only gives you more time to spend with your guests instead of carving, they take less time to cook so the bacon works out just right.
Plus, if you want to be fancy and try a bacon lattice as I have here, your guests get to see your handiwork. It gives that little wow factor without that much effort (or expense). You can see how it's done in the photos below.
I served these along with a nice range of roasted vegetables, which all makes a delicious, comforting meal. Since you serve a whole one each, they're much easier on you as host. True, it does mean your guests will need to carve themselves but it's all part of the fun and will be forgiven as they enjoy.
So next time you are entertaining over the Holiday season and dread the thought of carving, give these bacon wrapped Cornish hens a try instead. Easy to make, delicious and with that little wow factor, they're a fantastic main. As after all, who says you have to go with same old, same old?
Try these other meaty mains:
- Roast boneless leg of lamb on a bed of mint
- Milk-braised pork (maiale al latte)
- Garlic herb roasted chicken
- Plus get more main dishes in the archives.
Bacon wrapped Cornish hens
- 4 Cornish hens thawed, if frozen
- 24 oz smoked bacon streaky
- Preheat oven to 350F/175C.
- Pat the Cornish hens dry and tuck the pointed ends in under the birds (see 1st picture in step by step above). If you like, you can just lay a few slices of bacon over the hens to cover but to do a lattice pattern follow steps below.
- For bacon lattice - Lay a piece of bacon across one of the Cornish hens tucking one end under the wing and the other over the opposite leg. Place another piece over the top exactly opposite (see 2nd picture above). Fold back the first piece then place another slice under it alongside the second piece (see 3rd picture). Fold back the first piece on top. Lay another piece over the 1st piece, parallel to the piece you just put down, then lift up the end of the first piece to put another slice under (probably starting under the leg), parallel again. Trim the ends of the slices so they can just tuck under into the cavity, apart from the first two you put on which rest along the legs. Now lift alternate pieces of the parallel slices of bacon that have the first slice of bacon over the top and lay another piece parallel to the first piece (see 5th and 6th photo). Put these two pieces back down and fold back the alternate pieces to put another slice in parallel, then once again with the opposite two. Trim these pieces again - you should have a woven lattice with pieces down the legs (as in final photos).
- Transfer the bacon wrapped Cornish hens to a shallow baking sheet/dish with a rack in the bottom. Place the vegetables around the edge and drizzle with a little salt and olive oil.
- Roast for approx 1 hour, or nearer 1 hour 15min if they are over 1lb. Increase the temperature to around 375F for the last 10-15mins to help crisp up the bacon. If you want it even crisper, put under the broiler but watch closely so it doesn't burn. Serve with the vegetables alongside.
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