Stephanie Thornton Plymale’s Herb-Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Stephanie Thornton Plymale’s Herb-Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Stephanie Thornton Plymale’s Herb-Roasted Cornish Game Hens
I grew up homeless and was in the foster care system for much of my youth, so it’s hard to overstate how much my family, and the home we have created, mean to me. Designing beautiful spaces and sharing time in them with my loved ones is something that has brought me peace and joy throughout my life, in spite of the many challenges I faced growing up.

In Chapter 5 of American Daughter, I describe how I celebrate Christmas with my family and our holiday menu:

The tree was beautiful, trimmed in gold and white and ablaze with hundreds of tiny, twinkling lights. I had trays of canapes out on the island: jewel-colored caviar piled on rounds of toast, walnuts and blue cheese nestled into split figs, smoked salmon and chives on squares of rye. There were little hot dogs wrapped in phyllo dough and tiny mincemeat pies. There were rich cheeses and assorted olives and marcona almonds and roasted chestnuts. There were cut-glass bowls of punch and eggnog set out on the sidebar, where guests could spike their drinks with anything they wanted. In the ovens were roasting Cornish game hens and a maple-glazed ham, scalloped potatoes, bacon-wrapped asparagus. I took in the scene around me in the lull before the first guests arrived and felt a tug of pride. All the kids who sneered at me as I was growing up, for being poor and dirty and illiterate: Wouldn’t they be surprised if they could see me now?
American Daughter

This is the recipe is for the Cornish game hens I prepare.

-Stephanie Thornton Plymale

Book Club Buzz: Author Letter, Book Giveaway



Stephanie Thornton Plymale’s Herb-Roasted Cornish Game Hens

A recipe for the Cornish Game Hens Stephanie Thornton Plymale prepares for Christmas to accompany her memoir, AMERICAN DAUGHTER. Recipe adapted from

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1x
  • Category: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American


  • 3 Cornish game hens, livers and gizzards removed and rinsed
  • 3 whole cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 large sprigs rosemary, fresh
  • 2 large shallots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mustard, coarse-grained
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fines herbes
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper,  freshly ground
  • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place Cornish hens in a large ovenproof baking dish.
  2. Place one 1 clove garlic, 1 rosemary sprig, and several shallot quarters into the cavity of each game hen.  Rub ½ teaspoon salt into the cavity of each hen.
  3. In a small bowl, combine mustards, fine herbes, paprika, fennel seed, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and the remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and whisk thoroughly. Coat hens thoroughly with the mixture.
  4. Place hens in oven and roast for 75 minutes. Check temperature at thickest part of thigh, away from the bone, it should be at least 165°F. Remove from oven and let rest for five minutes before serving. Enjoy!

Keywords: Herb Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!


, , , , , , , , ,