Cornish Game Hens with Sage Stuffing

Passed to your plate by Nicole Desender

When my wife moved from Croatia to the United States in 2014, we realized that she had never had a Thanksgiving before. We always do Thanksgiving together with my family — I wanted to give her a preview though, so I decided to do a “Turkey Day” the week before with just the two of us. A whole turkey was pretty daunting for just two people, so I settled on a couple of Cornish game hens, bourbon maple sweet potatoes, roasted brussel sprouts, and of course, some Christmas ale. Lucky for me, she was impressed – enough so that having our own Turkey Day together has become a tradition. 

Print Recipe
Nicole Desender
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Brine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Stuffing
  • 8 ounces rye bread about 1/2 loaf or so
  • 1/2 small leek white and light green parts only, rinsed well and sliced into half-moons
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms wiped clean and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat- leaf parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme dried
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth low-sodium
  • ground pepper & kosher salt freshly
Everything Else
  • 2 Cornish game hens
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
  • freshly ground pepper and kosher salt
  • 1 kitchen twine
Prep Time 1 day
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Brine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Stuffing
  • 8 ounces rye bread about 1/2 loaf or so
  • 1/2 small leek white and light green parts only, rinsed well and sliced into half-moons
  • 4 ounces cremini mushrooms wiped clean and finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh flat- leaf parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme dried
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth low-sodium
  • ground pepper & kosher salt freshly
Everything Else
  • 2 Cornish game hens
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter room temperature
  • freshly ground pepper and kosher salt
  • 1 kitchen twine
Instructions
  1. Combine brine ingredients in container large enough to submerge 2 Cornish game hens, and brine overnight.
  2. Discard brine and pat game hens - inside and out - as dry as possible with paper towels.
  3. Toast rye bread in toaster or in oven until light brown and dry. Dice toasted bread and add to mixing bowl.
  4. Heat ½ tablespoon of oil in skillet, and sauté mushrooms, leek, and garlic until soft, then add to bowl with all other stuffing ingredients. Combine well, adding additional chicken broth if stuffing seems too dry.
  5. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spoon stuffing into hens, and truss with kitchen twine. Slip 1 tablespoon of butter underneath the skin of each hen, and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Place hens on roasting rack and roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue roasting, about 25 minutes more, or until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into hens’ thighs and stuffing reaches 165 degrees.
  7. Transfer hens to plate, and let rest before serving.
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