Brining chicken makes it especially moist and tender when cooked. If you can't find Cornish game hens, these directions work just as well with a whole chicken.
Since creating this recipe, I've made some changes to it and have begun to use it with turkey. For the brine, I boil 4 1/2 cups vegetable broth (using it is a shortcut to making it yourself with water and root veggies), 1 tablespoon allspice berries, 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 2 sprigs of rosemary. I replace the water with 4 1/2 cups of unsweetened apple juice (this has really improved the recipe!). Brine the turkey for 1 hour per pound (a turkey bag in a cooler filled with ice, or the lid cracked a bit and set on the front porch, will keep it at the proper temperature). Remove the turkey, dry it with paper towels, allow it to come to room temperature, stuff it with the fruits and spices (if using cheesecloth, you can use dried spices for this instead of fresh), place a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme under the skin of the turkey, and put it into a 350F oven. Bake it as usual, knocking 20 to 30 minutes off of the usual time because brined poultry cooks faster, and then take it out and let it "rest" for 20 minutes so that the juices can be reabsorbed before you carve it. You can apply the same technique to chicken and cornish hens, but alter the time that they're in the brine and in the oven so that you don't end up with a salt lick! ;-) I like to add some rosemary and thyme to milk and allow it to absorb the flavor by setting it over low heat for an hour and use it with mashed potatoes. Enjoy the recipe! - 24 Nov 2010 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)
This was out-of-this-world delicious! I was short on time, so I only brined my birds for about 1 1/2 hours (mine were small, so this was sufficient). My hens were done after 1 1/2 hours in the oven. The meat was tender and juicy. I have two more hens in the freezer and can't wait to make these again! Thanks for a wonderful recipe! - 12 Nov 2010 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)
There was only one cornish hen left at Wholefoods so I decided to get a whole young chicken instead to make dinner for my girlfriend and myself as our post Christmas dinner. The chicken came out extremely tender and juicy. The citrus flavors were extremely vibrant yet simple- allowing the natural sweetness of the chicken to come through. We thoroughly enjoyed it and my girlfriend said it was the best roasted chicken she has ever had. So it made our Christmas extra special and romantic. Thanks so much for this fantastic recipe! - 08 Jan 2011 (Review from Allrecipes USA and Canada)