Thanksgiving Hens

Thanksgiving Hens

recipe image

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Rock Cornish game hens, a cross between a White Rock hen and a Cornish hen, are underrated. Maybe this is because, ounce for ounce, they are a little more expensive than chicken, or perhaps they are a little scary for people who are used to chicken in parts. But they are delicious indeed, and their greatest attribute is that they are “mini.” Each person gets his or her own bird. I thought it would be nice to come up with a recipe that mimics the Thanksgiving bird but can be made in one tenth the time. So these birds are stuffed à la Thanksgiving and served with a good old-fashioned pan gravy that you can whip up while the Cornish hens are resting.

NotesTotal time: 60 to 65 minutes

Makes4 Servings

Preparation Time20 min

Preparation Time – Text20 minutes

Cooking Methodroasting

CostModerate

Total Timeunder 2 hours

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Mealdinner

Taste and Textureherby, savory

Ingredients

  • 6 frozen breakfast sausages
  • 2 small onions
  • 4 slices homemade-style white bread, torn into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ teaspoon dried sage
  • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly milled black pepper
  • 4 Rock Cornish hens(1 to 1¼ pounds each), rinsed and dried
  • ½ cup white wine or vermouth, optional
  • One 14- or 14½-ounce can chicken broth or 1¾ cups Chicken Stock
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all purpose flour

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F; arrange the frozen sausages in a shallow roasting pan and roast until cooked through, about 18 to 20 minutes. Set the sausages aside until they are cool enough to handle; then cut them into ¼-inch slices. Reserve the pan. Turn up the heat to 475°F.

  2. Meanwhile, finely chop one onion and coarsely chop the other. Combine the sliced sausages, bread, finely chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of the butter, the sage, thyme, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Season the hens inside and out with an additional ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Stuff each hen with one fourth of the bread mixture and tie the legs. Arrange the hens on a rack in the shallow roasting pan and drizzle the wine and remaining 1 tablespoon butter over them.

  3. Roast the hens for 20 minutes. Add the coarsely chopped onion to the pan and continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh joint registers 170°F. Transfer the hens to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and let rest for 10 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, put the roasting pan on a burner; add the broth and bring to a boil, stirring to loosen any brown bits in the bottom of the pan. Whisk together ¼ cup water and the flour; add to the roasting pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer 3 minutes. Serve the hens with the sauce.

2005 Sarah Moulton

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