I remember eating Cornish game hens when I was little, which means that either my mom or dad had to have made them since I certainly wasn’t stuffing and roasting game hens at such an early age. Wanting to know how they had prepared them, I called my mom and asked her which one of them had done the cooking. She said that she had made them. Then my dad piped up in the background and said he had made them. Okay, fine…well, were they stuffed? My mom said no, my dad said yes. Sigh. This wasn’t going well. So either my mom made them or my dad did, and they were either stuffed or not stuffed. Very informative phone call.
Since nobody can remember or agree on anything about the dish other than the fact that we did in fact eat Cornish game hens many years ago, I won’t be remaking a childhood favorite so much as just trying a dish I haven’t had in twenty years.
With Thanksgiving coming up, I figured this was a good opportunity to try out an idea for stuffing that’s been rolling around in my head for a while. A combination of sweet and savory with a little heat thrown in for fun. (I know that it’s technically not stuffing when you’re not actually stuffing a bird, but I can’t get on board with the term “dressing.” It makes me think of salad.)
Roasted Cornish Game Hens with Spicy Gingered Stuffing
Cornish game hens, rinsed and dried
salt and pepper
Loosely stuff a few apple and onion slices into the cavity of each bird. Tuck wings under body and tie legs together*. Brush the hens with melted butter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 350 degrees for about 1 hour, basting with more melted butter every 20 minutes. After an hour, turn the oven up to 400 degrees and roast another 10-15 minutes to let the skin crisp.
4 cups small diced French bread
4 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup sliced leek
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 serrano pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 apple, peeled and sliced
1 pear, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper
2 tablespoons parsley
Spread bread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Remove and reserve in a large mixing bowl.
In a large pan, melt butter and add onion, leek, garlic, celery and serrano pepper. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until onions and celery are softened. Stir in ginger, then add apples and pears. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apples and pears are softened. Check seasonings. Remove from heat.
Stir hot apple mixture into bread cubes. Add cream and wine so bread is moistened to your liking (I used several tablespoons of each). Stir in parsley and check seasonings once more.
Butter individual ramekins (or one large dish) and fill with stuffing. Put in the oven with the hens for the last ten minutes of cooking time.
*I use Stretch Cooking Bands instead of string to truss poultry/meats. They are oven safe up to 600 degrees and are washable and reusable…so much easier than dealing with tying string!
The house smelled amazing while this meal was cooking…just like Thanksgiving. And when these little babies came out of the oven all browned and crisp, our mouths were watering. The meat was incredibly moist and tender and the stuffing was just what I’d hoped for. Apple and pear flavors gave a touch of sweetness, and the ginger and serrano came in at the end with a punch.
This spicy stuffing is definitely making the Thanksgiving roster.
As for the hens, maybe they weren’t exactly like the ones I had as a child, but they sure were good…and now I can be “the one who made the Cornish game hens.”