Slow-Roast Game Hen, Brined & Glazed with Maple Syrup

Dark Cornish Hen

Dark Cornish Hen

by Cat, Jan 2014 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

I’ve not yet tested this recipe.

See also: About Cornish Game Hens, Grouse, Pheasant & Other Small Fowl

I love the flavor of real maple syrup but don’t get to indulge in it very often because I avoid sugar. But this recipe sounds so delicious that I just have to try it; however, I will not use as much syrup as in the original recipe. I do not recommend substituting maple-flavored pancake syrup, because that is made with HFCS.

Maple syrup is a truly American sweetener primarily from sugar maples native to the northeastern parts of the US and eastern Canada. However, Native Americans from my part of the country (Montana and southern Saskatchewan) made maple syrup from the boxelder maples that are native to this area. (See Wikipedia (2) for more about the boxelder maple).

Slow-Roast Game Hen, Brined & Glazed with Maple Syrup

This recipe is adapted from a recipe on (1) for Maple-Glazed Roast Chicken. The maple syrup is used in the salt brine, and also used in the glaze. The original recipe calls for 2 cups grade B pure maple syrup for one 3.5 – 4 lb whole roasting chicken. I’ve adapted this recipe for a 22 oz. game hen, to serve 2, and to use a slow-roasting temperature because that yields the most tender and flavorful result.

See About Cornish Game Hens, Grouse, Pheasant & Other Small Fowl for more information on brining and butterflying the game hen.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • ¾ cup grade B pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • rounded ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 ½ Tbsp kosher salt (Morton)
  • one 22-oz game hen
  • 1 quart saucepan
  • large bowl (for brining)
  • roasting pan with rack


  1. Combine all but salt and chicken in saucepan, then warm over low heat to meld flavors, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer cinnamon stick to the bowl and reserve 2 Tbsp of the maple syrup mixture for the glaze.
  2. Add 4 ¼ cups cool water to bowl, then stir in the salt until it dissolves. Add remaining maple syrup mixture and stir again. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Meanwhile, butterfly game hen, then place in bowl of brine, skin-side down. Transfer bowl to refrigerator to soak for 2 hours. Then transfer the hen to a plate, skin-side up and return to refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 1 hour (or overnight) for the skin to dry.
  4. Remove hen from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 20 – 30 minutes, while oven preheats to 375°F. Roast hen for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 300°F, and slow-roast for another 30 minutes. Add a cup of water to the pan to prevent the glaze from burning. Brush hen with some of the reserved maple syrup mixture, then return to oven, rotating the pan. continue to roast, brushing with maple syrup mixture every 15 minutes, for another 60 – 90 minutes, until roast is done.
  5. Remove roasting pan from oven, transfer hen to plate and let rest 15 minutes before halving the bird to serve.

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