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How to Truss a Cornish Game Hen (8 Fuss-Free Steps)

Cornish game henStephanie Frey /Depositphotos

The step-by-step guide, from the old school, to trussing a Cornish game hen. You’re in for a treat!

A Cornish game hen, colloquially referred to as a “broiler,” is a smaller, younger chicken than a regular chicken that is formidably tasty when prepared well. For reasons related to its size, it can be difficult to truss a Cornish game hen like a regular chicken when preparing it for roasting.

So, what is the best way to get the job done?

To truss a Cornish game hen, you will need a pair of scissors or a sharp knife and some butcher’s twine about two feet in length. Tie the legs at the bottom part of the bone, then go up to tie the wings behind the breast. This process allows for thorough cooking of the hen.

There are numerous dishes prepared with the Cornish game hen—and we are here to advise you so that the result of your time in the kitchen is a delicious hen, prepared without fuss, worthy of bragging to the neighbors about.

Read on to find out more about the best butcher’s twine and the details on how to truss the Cornish game hen. Along the way, we will even explain how to roast hen in the oven and on the grill.

The Best Butcher Twine to Use for the Task at Hand

There are several kinds of butcher twine to choose from, and, as any butcher or professional chef who knows their staples will tell you, Regency Wraps Natural Cooking Twine is by far the best option.

It is made of pure cotton, free from chemicals or preservatives so your cooking stays as natural as possible. The great thing about this butcher’s twine is that it has a hassle-free string cutter at the end, so you will not need to bring a knife with you anywhere when cooking.

How To Truss a Cornish Game Hen

When you are ready to truss the Cornish game hen, you will need to sit down comfortably and take out the butcher’s twine. There should be four ends: two should be facing opposite directions while the other two should be interlocked.

Step 1: Cut one end of the butcher’s twine (leave about 4-5 inches) and make a loop with the ends interlocked in opposite facing directions.

Step 2: Place the Cornish game hen in front of you with its neck to your left and its head away from you. Make sure it is also upside down, with the belly of the bird pointing toward the ceiling.

Step 3: Flip the bird over so that it is right-side-up and its neck is pointing to the left (nearest you).

Step 4: Take one end of the butcher’s twine and place it around both legs, right beneath the feet. Tie a knot tightly. If you use more than one strand of butcher’s twine, make sure not to cross them, or else they will become useless.

Step 5: Go up towards the wings and tie a knot around it, making sure that you include both legs under the twine.

Step 6: Cross over to the other wing and repeat what you did on the first one. After that, start tying twist knots upwards until you reach about midway of the breast area. Keep this process as tight as you can.

Step 7: Once you are halfway through the middle of the breast, flip the bird back so that it is upside down, pointing upwards. You should now have two loops, which will soon become one loop once you finish the next step.

Step 8: Take both ends of the twine and turn them around to face opposite directions. Tie a knot, making sure that it is tight. This will be the final step in this process.

How to Roast a Cornish Game Hen in the Oven

After you have trussed your Cornish game hen, it is time to roast it in the oven! This bird cooks relatively quickly, so ensure that you are using a fair amount of heat when roasting it in the oven.

Step 1: Preheat the oven at 475°F (245°C). Take a roasting tray and melt some cooking oil in it. You can also add a tablespoon of butter for flavor if you prefer.

Step 2: Drain any excess fluid from your Cornish game hen, then place it in the tray. Apply some salt and freshly cracked black pepper on top of the whole chicken to make it even tastier.

Step 3: Place the tray in the oven at 475°F (245°C) for about 40 minutes. Take out, flip the bird over, then roast for another 25-30 minutes or until you can see that all sides are golden brown in color with a hint of pink and red.

Step 4: To make sure that the interior is well-cooked, use a meat thermometer and see if the core temperature reaches at least 165°F (74°C).

If you prefer your chicken to also have colors on its skin, we recommend brining it for about five hours before roasting it in the oven. This will help with the skin’s color, but it may also end up making your chicken somewhat salty.

How to Cook Cornish Game Hens on the Grill

When cooking Cornish game hens on the grill, you can use BBQ sauce or any marinade that you like and rub it all over the chicken. If you want, you can apply a little bit of olive oil before you apply the marinade so that it does not dry out.

It is also recommended that you grease the grill’s grates to prevent the bird from sticking unsalvageably to them. Make sure to always keep your grill on medium heat, never high. If you are using a gas grill, cook with indirect heat.

Indirect heat, if this is the first time you hear of the term, means preheating your grill to the desired temperature with half the burners on, leaving the other half off. After preheating, the meat is cooked on the side with the unlit burners—hence the name of this grilling technique.

Step 1: Preheat your grill to medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Place a disposable aluminum pan directly below where you will be putting the Cornish game hen. Pour in about one and a half cups of water (or any other liquid such as beer or apple cider) and keep an instant-read thermometer handy.

Step 2: Take the Cornish game hen and make sure it is completely thawed out before cooking. Make sure that it’s dry on both sides, then rub some sauce or marinade all over it. If you want, make some cuts into the legs so that the flavor can seep through during grilling (albeit at the expense of juiciness).

Step 3: Place the chicken on the grill, making sure to use indirect heat. Close the lid to get convection currents in your grill for a cooking method that more or less resembles your oven.

Step 4: With your instant-read thermometer, check the bird to ensure that the core temperature reaches 165°F. (You can always keep on cooking for another 5-10 minutes if it hasn’t.) When the temperature is correct, take off the grill and let it rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into it.

Enjoying the Cornish Game Hen

There should be minimal steps in this section because we all know how to enjoy our food. The Cornish game hen has a slightly gamier taste because of the age difference. 

It is an enjoyable meal for two people maximum and is not recommended for large crowds. Try cooking the Cornish game hen with bacon or wrapped around it to add more flavor.

We have one last question: Is your mouth watering yet? We know ours are!

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