We tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago, and it was very good and enjoyable. Not wanting to buy a large bottle of aquavit for the 2 tablespoons in the recipe, we used brandy (and were able to get a sample size that still supplied a more than adequate amount for the recipe).

The recipe is of Swedish origins and is called “Kokt Höns” in Swedish (literally “cooked hens”). Apparently the Swedes prepare duck and other game hens this way as well.

It’s an easy and tasty recipe if your looking for something nice, but a little different, to do with chicken. It would be really nice for a small dinner gathering, especially if you were doing a buffet or had a good spread of food for the table. But it is also simple and quick enough to be suitable for an everyday dinner.

The recipe is below.

Aquavit Hens (Kokt Höns)

  • ¼ cup butter
  • 2 Cornish game hens, halved (thawed if frozen)
  • 1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons aquavit, brandy, or gin, if desired
  1. Halve the game hens.  I also removed the backbone from the hens at this time.
  2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add game hens and brown on all sides.
  4. Pour wine or broth over browned hens and add the dill, thyme, salt, and aquavit, brandy, or gin.
  5. Cover and simmer for 20–30 minutes, or until the hens are tender.
  6. Remove the hens to a plate and skim fat from the drippings left in the pan.
  7. Reduce the drippings until a thick glaze forms.
  8. Return hens to the skillet and spoon the glaze over the hens. Sprinkle with salt to taste, if desired.
  9. Serve with glaze spooned over the top of the hens. Makes 4 servings.

From Scandinavian Cooking by Beatrice Ojakangas, published by the University of Minnesota Press