Roasted Cornish Hens and chopped sweet potatoes in a cast iron skillet.

Spice Roasted Cornish Hens with Sweet Potatoes

Whether for a weeknight or entertaining, this recipe for Spice Roasted Cornish Hens with Sweet Potatoes offers a cozy meal whenever you need it.

Roasted Cornish Hens and chopped sweet potatoes in a cast iron skillet.
Spice Roasted Cornish Hens with Sweet Potatoes

These bronzed hens may look ordinary, but is there really anything uninteresting about crispy skin and tender meat as you slice it off the bone? Beyond those crispy bits, these Spice Roasted Cornish Hens nestled in a bed of sweet potatoes are peppered with spices, giving heat to each bite.

Spice Roasted Cornish Hens and Sweet Potatoes in a cast iron skillet.

My head drooped as I carried a platter to the table, my feet shuffling in shame. I was presenting my family with one of my experiments, a failed, most unattractive mushy mess, the one called “tonight’s dinner.” It tasted fine, the children even asked for seconds. But I was convinced it was atrocious.

And then I bucked up and grew up: “Be thankful for the food on the table,” I chastised myself. “Think of the Philippines.”

It took a little self-scolding to count my blessings.

I have been following the devastation in my family’s homeland, from what seems to be countless miles. But despite the distance, the scenes are immediate and gut wrenching, and I am trying my best to find ways to help meaningfully. It’s always hard to know what to do, what is needed. It is a comfort to know that my own relatives had the luck of living far away from the typhoon’s traumatic path, and for now, all I can offer is gratitude for their safety and prayers for the suffering.

It’s times like these that I need to step back. To think about food at its core. To remember sustenance and simplicity. After my epic dinner fail, I picked myself up and returned to basics. A roasted chicken. Grilled vegetables. A bowl of soup. Nothing fancy.

I turn to a good roasted chicken on a regular basis. It’s straightforward, it’s pragmatic, and it’s a meal I know the whole family will love. Spice Roasted Cornish Hens with Sweet Potatoes is the kind of food I know will nourish and recalibrate.

A trussed Cornish hen in a cast iron skillet.
Roasted Cornish Hens in cast iron skillets.

These bronzed hens may look ordinary, but is there really anything uninteresting about crispy skin and tender meat as you slice it off the bone? Beyond those crispy bits, these Cornish hens nestled in a bed of sweet potatoes were peppered with spices, giving heat to each bite. There’s something extra comforting in that peppery bite that warms the belly.

If only I could do more, if only I could send these roasts to those who need them most.

But if there is anything I can do…I can be grateful for what I have..whether it is a bowl of mush or a beautiful plate of roasted hens.

I give thanks.

A Spice Roasted Cornish Hen and Sweet Potatoes in a skillet.
Roasted sweet potatoes and a Cornish hen in a skillet.

If you’re like me and looking for ways to help victims from Typhoon Haiyan, please consider the following charities and agencies. Also, check if your employer is offering aid and will be willing to match donations. Some are, and every bit helps.

Philippine Red Cross
International Red Cross
Unicef Philippines
Doctors without Borders

More Cornish Hen & Chicken Recipes

Buttermilk Brined Cornish Hens
Thai-Spiced Mandarin Orange Roasted Chicken Thighs
Sheet Pan Moroccan Chicken with Broccoli Rice and Sweet Potatoes
Harissa-style Roast Chicken with Butternut Squash and Potatoes
Filipino Chicken Adobo

Spice Roasted Cornish Hens with Sweet Potatoes

Cornish hens always seem a little fancier, but truly, I like the option of having small hens as opposed to one large chicken as it can save time in the oven. Whether for a weeknight or entertaining, these Spice Roasted Cornish Hens with Sweet Potatoes offer a cozy meal whenever you need it.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 675kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 Cornish hens
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 lemon halved
  • fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, or rosemary (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter melted
  • 3 sweet potatoes peeled and sliced in 3 inch pieces
  • 2 turnips peeled and sliced in 3-inch pieces

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lightly pat the hens dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the cumin, coriander, paprika and salt. Season the cavities with a little salt and spice mixture, and insert half a lemon and a sprig of fresh herbs, if using. Truss the hens by folding back the wings and tying the legs together with kitchen twine. Brush the hens with melted butter, and season generously with salt and spice mixture. Place in a cast iron skillet or roasting pan, and surround the hens with the sweet potatoes and turnips, also brushed with butter and seasoned with salt and remaining spice mixture.
  • Place in the middle rack of the oven. Roast the hens for 50 minutes to 1 hour; until the skin is bronzed and the internal temperature in thickest part of the thigh is about 180 degrees.

Nutrition

Calories: 675kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 42g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 7g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 242mg | Sodium: 323mg | Potassium: 1284mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 24829IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 109mg | Iron: 4mg
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Comments

Recipe Rating




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  1. Jack Rokon

    The looks Amazing , and This sounds Fantastic. To think about food at its core. To remember sustenance and simplicity.” How beautiful. Thank you, Liren. Anyone who donates because they saw this blog entry will be a big help to us. Remember us in your prayers.

    Reply
  2. jackrokon

    Hi,
    OMG that looks so incredible! I adore cornish hens and sweet potatoes, together they must be perfect!
    To think about food at its core. To remember sustenance and simplicity.” How beautiful. Thank you, Anyone who donates because they saw this blog entry will be a big help to us. Remember us in your prayers.

    Reply
  3. CherylB

    This was the first time that I have made Cornish hens.   I was very happy that it turned out as well as it did.

    Followed the directions…. Perfect!

    Reply
  4. Gina

    It is disheartening that people are suffering over there. I know help will get there, it’s just hard watching the aftermath in the meantime. Giving money to the organizations that can get the supplies there is the best we can do from afar. I know your family is thankful for you providing them a good meal, no matter what it is.
    -Gina-

    Reply
  5. Laura (Tutti Dolci)

    Gorgeous meal, I especially love the sweet potatoes! A wonderful reminder to give thanks – I’ve been reminding myself of that lately too.

    Reply
  6. angela@spinachtiger

    I am so sorry about the tragedy this week. So sad. It makes us all stop complaining about trivial things. The hens are just beautiful. I make a lot of roasted chickens, at least one a week and I’m putting sweet potatoes next time.

    Reply
  7. Aileen

    “To think about food at its core. To remember sustenance and simplicity.” How beautiful. Thank you, Liren. Anyone who donates because they saw this blog entry will be a big help to us. Remember us in your prayers.

    Reply
    • Liren

      Aileen, you were in my thoughts over the weekend, especially after the earthquake. I continue to pray for everyone there and hope all the efforts from here (big and small) make a difference.

      Reply
  8. Patty

    A simple roasted dinner with chicken as the star is always a winner! It’s so difficult to watch the news coming from the Philippines right now ;( Thanks for names of the charities and let’s hope things start to turn around for the better and we start to see people receiving the help they need over there.

    Reply
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