Lemon Rosemary Cornish Game Hens

Cornish Game HenMiss Manners

Lately, I have been thinking about table manners. I’d like to believe that I handle myself pretty well at the table. I know where my napkin goes, I know which fork to use, and I try not to talk with my mouth full. (I’m a mom. Sometimes you gotta say what you gotta say, even if you just took a bite!) I am confident that I will not embarrass myself or others when we go out to eat. As for my kids?

I noticed that my kids lack a certain basic knowledge when it comes to eating at the dinner table. Just to be clear, it’s not like they are total savages. They do know the proper way. But, it was while watching my son eat his dinner, crouched on the bench seat like Gollum from Lord of The Rings, that I realized perhaps a refresher course is in order.

When I was a kid, we went out to dinner relatively frequently—and when I say out to dinner I mean white tablecloths not “Do you want fries with that?” Dining out was how we celebrated birthdays and special occasions, and my sister and I were expected to act accordingly. It wasn’t always easy. The biggest test was when my dad’s parents were in town and we had to go to a place we called The Morgue. It was a white table cloth kind of club for, shall we say, an older generation—and not, frankly, an appropriate place to bring your young children for dinner.

Kids are going to be kids. Of course my Dad wasn’t always helpful. He once gave my very young cousin a Fireman’s Helmet with a siren as a gift for his birthday during dinner there. You should have seen the reaction when my cousin lit off that siren! It’s amazing how marble can amplify sound. Still makes me laugh.

The short version of the story is that I learned good table manners early on and I have apparently been remiss in the education of my children, at least as it pertains to the less well-known stuff. If I asked them the difference between a salad fork and a shrimp fork I would get a blank stare, but they do know the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork. Baby steps.

Certain foods can be difficult for anyone. Case in point: Game Hens. On a recent outing for my Mother’s birthday, my daughter and I both ordered the roasted game hen for dinner. It was very tasty. It was also a challenge to eat without flinging food everywhere. We muscled through it, and I later found myself looking online for the proper way to eat a game hen which put me back on the manners thing.

I’m starting a Manners Boot Camp at home and this is the first lesson…

Lemon Rosemary Cornish Game Hens
Adapted from Food 52
Serves 4

4 Cornish game hens
4 lemons, quartered
8 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoon herbes de Provence
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup white wine

Preheat oven to 450.

Stuff each game hen with one lemon that has been sliced into quarters and a sprig of rosemary. Place them in a baking pan.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Finely chop the remaining rosemary, and stir it into the melted butter along with salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. (More salt will be needed if you are using unsalted butter.)

Using a basting brush, thoroughly coat each game hen with the butter and rosemary mixture, then sprinkle the hens with one tablespoon of the herbs de Provence.

Place the pan in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, pour the white wine into the bottom of the roasting pan and swirl it around. Continue to cook the game hens for another 15 minutes, basting the hens with this wine 2-3 times during those 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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