- 3 Cornish game hens (1-1/2 to 2 lb. each)
- 6 Tbs. plus 1/3 cup Sauvignon Blanc
- 1-1/2 Tbs. wildly honey
- 1-1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh, each torn into about 4 pieces
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 medium orange
- 2 small figs
- 1 small yellow onion, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
- 1 Tbs. kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted, for basting, plus 1 Tbs. butter, not melted, for the sauce
- 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
1. Making the marinade combine the 6 Tbs. wine, honey, thyme, bay leaves, and red pepper flakes, together and stir till honey is mostly dissolved (it’s all right if it doesn’t dissolve completely).
2. Preparing the game hen if giblets are present inside your hen, pull them out from the hens and reserve for another use. Using kitchen shears, cut along both sides of the backbones and remove them. Then cut each hen in half along the breastbone. Trim off the wing tips and put the hens in your large bowl marinade.
3. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the zest from the orange in large strips, letting the strips drop into the marinade bowl with the hens. Cut figs and add to the honey mixture with the sliced onion, to the bowl marinade. Toss well, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight, tossing the hens occasionally.
4. Remove marinade bowl of hens about half an hour before cooking. Arrange the hens on a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. (Discard the remaining marinade.) Position a rack in the top third of the oven and heat the oven to 450°F.
5. When ready to roast, season the hen halves on both sides with the salt and several grinds of pepper. Turn them skin side up. Roast the hens, basting occasionally with the melted butter and rotating the pan for even browning as needed, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meaty part of a thigh registers 175° to 180°F (be careful not to hit the bone), about 30 minutes.
6. If the skin is somewhat pale, baste the hens, turn the broiler to high, and broil, rotating the pan frequently, until the hens are nicely golden, about 2 minutes. (Watch carefully to prevent burning.) Transfer the hens to a serving platter and tent with aluminum foil. While the rimmed baking sheet is still hot, add the remaining 1/3 cup wine and use a wooden spoon to scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the wine and juices into a small saucepan and add the chicken broth. Boil the sauce over high heat until it thickens ever so slightly, 2 to 3 minutes; it should be more like a jus than a thick sauce. Off the heat, whisk in the remaining 1 Tbs. butter. Taste and add salt and pepper, if needed. Keep warm.
To serve, pour a small amount of the sauce on and around the hens and pass the remainder at the table.