Roasted Cornish Game Hen with Bacon and Thyme

Roasted Cornish Game with Bacon & Thyme

“I don’t like turkey”, he said. And I fell in love just a little bit more.

You know that part of a new relationship when you whisper your likes and dislikes to each other, looking for similarities and ways to connect? Eagerly clambering all over each other when you discover these similarities, which all feel like “signs”, more reasons to be together?

Well, that was Tarah and I at the beginning of our relationship. We produced short films, we worked at law firms, we loved sushi and we did NOT like turkey. You know, the important things.

Soon after this confession of our mutual dislike, Fall arrived and turkey seemed like it was on every menu or in every magazine I flipped through, and I became determined to find a recipe with a replacement that would still retain the decadent holiday spirit. That’s when I started to make this one-pot meal of crispy cornish game hen cooked with bacon, bacon fat, buttery fingerling potatoes, juicy cherry tomatoes, and a lemon-thyme marinade. And 6 years later, it’s still one of our favorites. 


As winter rolls in and I find myself craving all things roasted, this is the dish I reach for. I like to use Cornish game hens since they’re smaller, more flavorful, tender and easier to cook. And, I’m partial to all things small. Feel free to switch out the game hens with chicken; one large chicken for two game hens. Or, simply use your favorite chicken pieces.


While this recipe does have a few steps, they’re fairly simple and the end result is totally worth it. I love that this is a one-pot meal, especially for those nights that I either want to quickly impress my guests at a holiday dinner or treat Tarah and myself to a finger-licking good meal for which we often abandon all silverware and eat with our fingers – another one of our shared likes.

Wishing you a finger-licking good holiday season!
~ Anjali

A printable list of ingredients and directions are at the end of this post,
along with an image of this Perfect Morsel.


Place potatoes, with skin on, into a pot of boiling water. Cook for 15 minutes.


Using a sharp knife, prick one end of the tomatoes. Place them in a bowl with boiling water and leave for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water. When cool, pinch the skins off as many of them as you can.


Transfer the drained potatoes and the tomatoes to a large ovenproof dish or roasting pan. Slightly crush both using the back of large spoon. Preheat oven to 400F.


Heat a large frying pan and cook bacon slices until they are almost crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels leaving behind the bacon fat in the pan.


Place game hen pieces in a bowl and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil. Toss to coat. Place the game hen pieces into the pan with bacon fat in one layer, skin side down, and cook for 4 minutes on each side on high heat. Feel free to do this in 2 batches. Remove with a slotted spoon or tongs and transfer to the ovenproof dish.


Pick the leaves off the thyme sprigs. Mix 1 1/2 tablespoons of the thyme leaves, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ¼ teaspoon salt, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Pour the thyme mixture over all the ingredients in the ovenproof dish.


Carefully toss all the ingredients and spread out in a single layer. Break up the bacon pieces into the ovenproof dish.


Place in oven at 400F and bake for 40 minutes until golden and crispy.


Serve with your favorite salad or lemon tossed arugula.


Make sure to get a bit of everything on to your fork to make your perfect morsel.

Note: This dish is inspired by a recipe I once read by one of my favorite chefs, Jamie Oliver. I’ve changed the recipe up quite a bit, but I’m grateful to him for giving me a starting point.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>