The ideal method of telling when any form of poultry is safe for consumption entails gauging its internal temperature. Cornish game hens, although small in size compared to larger poultry such as turkeys and chickens, must be cooked to the same temperature for safe consumption: 165 degrees Fahrenheit. However, you must also follow cooking time guidelines according to the cooking method, whether grilling, roasting or simmering.
Things You'll Need
Roast a 1-1/2 to 2-lb. Cornish game hen in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes to one hour, depending on its weight.
Remove the Cornish game hen from the oven and insert a meat thermometer in its thickest portions, most commonly the thigh, breast and wing. Do not allow the meat thermometer to come in contact with a bone–it will not accurately read its internal temperature.
Gauge the internal temperature of the game hen–it should read a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit for safe consumption.
Grill a 1 1/2 to 2-lb. Cornish game hen, using indirect heat, for 45 minutes to 55 minutes. Achieve an indirect-heat cooking method on a charcoal grill by placing the briquettes on the left and right sides of the charcoal tray and cook with the cover closed. Place the game hen in the middle, on the grill rack, in between the lit briquettes. If using a gas grill, only light the outside gas jets and cook the game hen in the center of the gas jets with the cover closed.
Remove the game hen from the grill and place a meat thermometer in the thickest thigh, breast and wing; do not allow the thermometer to contact any bones.
Check the internal temperature of the game hen and make sure it reads a minimum of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cook the Cornish game hen in simmering water or chicken stock for 35 minutes to 45 minutes.
Remove the Cornish game hen from the cooking liquid and insert a meat thermometer in the densest thigh.
Gauge the temperature of the thigh, wing and breast and ensure they read at 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
References and ResourcesU.S. Department of Agriculture: Poultry...from Farm to Table
"The Professional Chef 8th Edition"; The Culinary Institute of America; 2006