Sweet and Salty Cornish Game Hens

17 Feb

This weekend’s snopocalypse left Washington under a heavy blanket and Washingtonians snuggled up inside, no where to go and nothing to do. Well, perhaps not ‘nothing to do.’ Movies were watched, reading caught up on, snow angels were made. And if you were lucky enough to get to the grocery before they were emptied (checkout lines at my local Safeway were up to two hours long!) it was an excellent opportunity to whip up something new in the kitchen.

This winter wonderland weekend’s culinary adventure in my kitchen: Cornish game hens. Drawing from items gathered in last minute grocery runs (thanks Rob!) and what was in the pantry we came up with a sort of sweet and salty version that was really quite tasty.

The dish was really rather easy to prepare. First we mixed up a little honey-herb butter by sautéing a clove of garlic and mixing it with parsley, salt, pepper, honey and butter, then loosened the skin and gave our henny pennies a nice buttery rub down.

Next we put together a quick stuffing by sautéing a shallot and a couple slices of bacon (we used a maple glazed variety in keep with the sweet and salty theme) and some garlic, then tossed in some crumbled cornbread and moistened the mixture with a little wine and chicken stock.

The birds were stuffed, thrown in the oven at 375 degrees. 45 minutes later they emerged golden, with just crisped skin, looking perfectly delectable. And how did they taste? Great! The sweetness from the honey and the maple bacon balanced the salt and the stuffing kept the hens extra moist. We served them with a simple side of asparagus with lemon, and a glass or three of pinot noir, making a lovely snowed-in meal that I would gladly make again.

Sweet and Salty Cornish Game Hens

(Adapted from Bon Appetite’s 0ct 1993 recipe for Cornish Game Hens with Ham and Cornbread Stuffing)

Stuffing

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 cups crumbled corn muffins or corn bread (about 7 ounces)
  • 1 cup cooked and crumbled bacon (3-4 slices)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock (we made our own but store bought would be fine)
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Hens

  • 2 Cornish game hens
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • Salt and pepper

For the Stuffing:
Cook bacon in a heavy medium skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove from skillet, crumble and reserve. Drain the bacon grease. Add oil and shallot; sauté, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant. Mix in remaining ingredients; stir until heated through. Remove skillet from heat. Season stuffing with salt and pepper. Cool slightly.

For the Hens:
Preheat oven to 375°F. Sauté garlic and mix with butter, honey and parsley off the heat. Loosen the skin and rub the honey-butter mixture between the skin and the meat. Grease 13 x 9×2-inch baking dish. Season hens with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on work surface. Pack 1/4 of stuffing into each cavity. Arrange hens stuffing side down in prepared dish. Roast hens until golden brown and juices run clear when thighs are pierced, about 45 minutes. Transfer hens to platter and serve.

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