Amber (Beer) Braised Cornish Game Hen or Half-Chicken

Dark Cornish Hen

Dark Cornish Hen

By Cat, Jun 2014 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I’m always looking for new ways to prepare chicken or game hen, as I get bored with my old faces. So when I saw this recipe, it intrigued me. We have a great local brewery here in my hometown: Flathead Lake Brewing, where I can get a delicious amber ale.

Beer helps to tenderize meat, and lends a wonderful flavor to the cooking liquid. I highly recommend this recipe. Plus I have several other recipes on this site using beer, ale or amber; see link below.

See also: 1. Brining Chicken2. Brining Poultry3. Butterflying & Brining Game Hen4. Poultry & Fowl Menu; 5. Beer/Ale/Amber recipes

Amber (Beer) Braised Cornish Game Hens

I found this recipe on the Alaskan Brewing Co. website, but of course, you could use amber ale from your local microbrewery (or bottled amber, in a pinch). The original recipe uses 4 game hens, so I’ve adapted this recipe for just one hen; you can easily multiply ingredients for more hens. Or you could use a half-chicken.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • 1 Cornish Game Hen
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Paprika to taste
  • 1 small onion (or ¼ of a larger onion), sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • ¼ – ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp lard or used bacon fat
  • 4 oz (¼ lb.) button mushrooms, quartered
  • ¼ cup amber ale
  • 2 Tbsp Chicken Stock
  • Unrefined sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp tapioca starch
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp  butter (optional, for buerre manie)
  • Equipment:
  • Large bowl for brining
  • Saucier or Dutch oven


  1. Prep: Brine hen for 2 hours. Remove from brine, rinse and pat dry. Season with pepper and paprika. NOTE: if you don’t brine the bird, season it also with Unrefined sea salt.
  2. Meanwhile, slice onion and garlic and set aside with the thyme; quarter mushrooms and set aside separately.
  3. Brown and braise: Heat lard in saucier over medium-high heat. Brown hens, skin-side down about 3 minutes; then turn it over and brown other side, 2 – 3 minutes; remove.
  4. Reduce heat to medium low. Add garlic, onions and thyme to pan and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add amber, mushrooms and stock to pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Return hen and cover. Simmer over low heat for one hour, covered. When done, remove hen to warm plate and keep warm while you make the sauce.
  6. Sauce: Make a buerre manie using 1 Tbsp butter and 1 Tbsp flour, then add it to the pot and stir to thicken. Alternately, stir 1 Tbsp starch into about ¼ cup of the cooking liquid, then stir it back into the pot; but I prefer the buerre manie.
  7. Serve hen with sauce. The sauce is also delicious on mashed potatoes as an accompaniment.


6/20/14: I used 1 hame hen, and made as written, using lard to sear the hen. I could not find an amber ale so used IPA (India Pale Ale, which is not pale but amber in color). After adding the ale and broth to deglaze, I thought there would not be enough liquid, so added 1 – 2 Tbsp filtered water. Turns out I didn’t need that. Bird was fall-off-the-bone tender when I removed it to make the sauce, using starch/liquid method. No adjustment to seasoning was needed for the bird nor the sauce. Result: Easy recipe and delicious! I’ll definitely make this again. No alterations to recipe needed.

Thanksgiving, 2017: Made as written using IPA as before. Used starch/liquid method to thicken the sauce, but don’t really like the starchy texture/taste; next time, use buerre manie (flour and butter mixture) to thicken.


  1. Alaskan Brewing Co. recipe; 2017 note: the original link is no longer valid and I cannot find it online. (

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