Gremolata Game Hens

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This recipe combines the cozy simplicity of oven roasting with the brightness of spring and presents it in the elegant package of the Cornish hen. Blend just a few ingredients to yield the bold flavor of our citrusy-herbal gremolata, a pesto-like mixture enhanced by Gustare Milanese Gremolata Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in which the flavor of each ingredient is identifiable as it permeates the moist flesh and crispy skin of your bird. Not a fan of Cornish hens? No problem! Gremolata is beautifully suited for use with chicken, pheasant, turkey or white fish. Or, stir into eggs and add some sun-dried tomatoes (and maybe some mozzarella) to make a memorable omelet.

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time:  1 hour
Serves:  4
Dietary Specifications:  dairy free, gluten free


generous ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted

2 bunches fresh, flat-leaf parsley, washed and drained

4 large garlic cloves

zest of 2 large lemons

1 tsp. 1830 Sea Salt, plus more to season hens

¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more to season hens

¼ cup Gustare Milanese Gremolata Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus more to season hens

2 Cornish game hens, approximately 1¾ – 2 pounds each


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spread hazelnuts in a single layer on an olive-oil brushed sheet tray, and toast for 20 minutes or until golden and aromatic. Allow to cool.
  2. While hazelnuts are toasting, remove leaves from parsley stems.
  3. Place all leaves, along with cooled hazelnuts, garlic, zest, seasonings, and Gustare Milanese Gremolata olive oil, in the bowl of a food processor.
  4. Pulse several times, until ingredients are finely chopped, and resemble a pesto. Do not pulverize into a puree. Individual flecks of citrus zest, garlic and nuts should remain visible.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees prior to roasting your game hens.
  6. Split game hens in half lengthwise. Run a knife just underneath skin and gently use fingers to loosen skin from flesh.
  7. Season hens with salt and pepper on both sides. Drizzle with Gustare Milanese Gremolata olive oil and rub to coat thoroughly.
  8. Spread ¼ cup of gremolata mixture underneath skin of each game hen. Be sure to spread it throughout leg, thigh and wing regions and not simply the breast. Any excess mixture can be spread over the skin as well. This will only further enhance flavor.
  9. Roast hens for approximately 1 hour, basting them generously in the lovely juices every 15 minutes. Game hens are fully roasted when golden brown and a thermometer inserted into thickest portion of thigh reads 165 degrees. Cover and rest 5 minutes upon removal from oven.

Make ahead: Gremolata “pesto” can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 10 days or frozen for several months. Hens may be split and stuffed the night before so they are ready to pop in the oven after work or just before guests arrive for dinner. Accompaniments can be prepared while hens are roasting and the tantalizing aroma wafs throughout your home.