Maybe you’re intimidated by the whole notion of serving a Normal Rockwell style turkey this year for the holidays. Or, maybe you just don’t have that many people to feed. Maybe you just prefer a different kind of poultry, and maybe you’d just rather dazzle your small gathering with cute, tiny wittoh itty bitty cornish hens. Whatever category you fall into, it doesn’t matter. You can bring something amazing to the table and be super proud of yourself.
Here’s the wonderful thing about this recipe…although you see me using just two hens, this will work for up to FOUR hens. There’s enough buttermilk brine for four little hens. Don’t have buttermilk? No problem. Just don’t worry about using it lol. It’s not a totally necessary ingredient, you can still brine your birds overnight without it. You also, don’t have to brine at all. Whatever option works best for you, go with that. Trust yourself. This would be a great dish for you and your sweetheart on Christmas or Thanksgiving.
Add buttermilk or water to a container large enough to fit your hens. This is an 8qt. cambro.
Add the salt.
Peel your lemon
Add the peel and the lemon (quartered) to your brine
Add the smoked paprika
And the granulated onion
Then the granulated garlic
Add the cumin
And the cayenne
Toss in the herbes de provence
Swirl it all around until its thoroughly combined.
Pour in the maple syrup (or honey). You can also use plain white or brown sugar.
Gently place your hens into the mixture.
Make sure they’re submerged…Hey guess what, if you want, you can place each hen in a gallon ziploc bag, and then pour the brine over each one equally.
Cover with plastic wrap so the hens don’t pop out while they brown.
Then, cover the entire container with plastic wrap. Let these babies brine overnight, or for about 6 hours.
Here’s the bread i’m using
Cube it up, and put it in a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until it’s really dried out
Grab yourself three stalks of celery
Chop off the ugly ends
Dice it up
Split a medium onion
Dice it up
Core off 1 large apple, I used honeycrisp, you can use granny-smith. whatever you use, make sure it’s a firm baking apple that won’t turn to mush.
So here’s your lineup.
I’m using sausage, but you don’t have to. This is a delicious pork sausage with apple and onion strewn all thru it. Mmm! I got it from Wegmans.
Line up some pretty sage leaves
Then chop them up
In a large skillet over medium heat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil, and brown the sausage
Break it up into very small bite-sized pieces, as crumbly as you can get it
Add the onion
And crushed red pepper flakes
At this rate, the bread should be ready. Remove it from the oven and let it cool.
Let the onions cool until softened, then add the celery. Cook that until softened.
Chop up some rosemary
Throw in the apple
Chuck the rosemary in
And the sage
And the thyme
Toss to combine
Add just a tiny pinch of nutmeg
And some black pepper
Add the granulated garlic and onion
Toss to combine. Make sure this tastes good, and season accordingly. Make sure all of the veggies and fruit are nice and tender, but not mushy. Remember, they’ll cook a little longer in the oven while they’re stuffed inside the hens!
Once you’re satisfied with the meat/veggie/fruit mixture, add the bread.
Toss to combine and allow the bread to soak up any residual fat/juices.
Then, add the broth, slowly and in stages. Allow the bread to absorb it before adding more. Adjust to your desired consistency.
Toss in the dried cranberries
And lemon zest
Remove the hens from the fridge
Rinse the brine off (if using buttermilk)
Transfer the stuffing mixture to a bowl and let it cool for about 20 minutes. Add scallions.
And some fresh parsley
Then add one egg
And beat it up. Or, just beat it up before adding it to the stuffing.
Pat the hens dry with paper towels. Make sure there is no surface moisture.
Stuff the hens with the stuffing, and tie their legs up so the filling doesn’t spill out.
Rub each hen with a little olive oil
Add some sea salt
and some pepper
No recipe for this, but if you want, dress your hens with some potatoes (I only used them because I had them laying around, this recipe doesn’t include instructions for them, but maybe the pictures will help if you’re curious). So, as you can se here, I rinsed them.
Then seasoned them up, I honestly don’t remember all of what I used. So be creative.
Place your hens in a 400 degree oven, and roast until the breast meat registers 165 on an instant read thermometer, about an hour — give or take.Print