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Gianfranco Campanella's Rock Cornish Game Hens

Pollastra al Forno allo Gianfranco


Chef Gianfranco Campanella is a first-generation Italian-American. Even though he was born here, his family moved back to Sicily when he was a boy, and that's where he developed his love of Italian cooking. His father was in the restaurant business, and Gianfranco honed his skills by his side, and is now the corporate chef at Mediterraneo in Providence, Rhode Island's Little Italy on Atwells Avenue. When he is not working, he likes to put together easy dishes at home.

This preparation of savory Rock Cornish game hens with potatoes and tomatoes is worthy of company.


2 Rock Cornish game hens, each about 1 pound, 5 ounces

1/2 cup King Arthur™ Unbleached, All-Purpose Flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup Filippo Berio Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup dry red wine

3 medium red potatoes, washed and cut into wedges

1 16-ounce can peeled tomatoes or 8 fresh plum tomatoes, peeled*

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Needles from 1 fresh rosemary sprig

Leaves from 2 fresh thyme sprigs

6 basil leaves, torn into large pieces

Salt to taste

Coarse ground pepper to taste


* To peel tomatoes, bring a pot of water to the boil, turn off the heat, and add the tomatoes. Remove them after 10 to 20 seconds. The skins should slip right off.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Rinse and dry the game hens. With a sharp chef's knife, cut them in half and then into quarters.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a zip-lock bag. Place the pieces in the bag and shake to coat them well. Transfer the pieces to a dish.

Put a large roasting on the stove. You may need to use two burners. Add the olive oil and heat it until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the pieces and brown them well on all sides. As they brown, transfer them to a dish. Set aside.

Add the onions to the pan and cook them until they begin to brown; turn off the heat. Pour in the wine and add the potatoes, tomatoes, garlic, rosemary, thyme, and basil. Season everything with salt and pepper.

Place the game pieces on top of the vegetables. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Uncover and serve with some of the vegetables and pan juices.

This recipe is from CIAO ITALIA PRONTO by Mary Ann Esposito, published by St. Martin's Press in 2005.


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