Stuffed Cornish Hens

FRIENDSGIVING CORNISH HENS WITH GLUTEN-FREE WILD RICE STUFFING

Skip the turkey and put something festive on each plate with herb-roasted Cornish hens stuffed with tart cherry, wild rice stuffing, and a pool of homemade gravy.

For the brine:

(Note: This step can be done the night before.)

1 ½ cup kosher salt (or 1 cup table salt)

1 ½ gallons water

8 Cornish hens (about 3 lb each), giblets removed

In a large pot, bucket, or several large mixing bowls, dissolve the salt in the water. Add the hens, cover, and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours, or overnight. Remove the hens from the brine, rinse them thoroughly, then pat dry. Prick the skin all over the breast and legs with the point of a paring knife.

For the basic wild rice preparation:

(Note: This step can be done in advance, and the rice can be refrigerated until you’re ready to prepare the Cornish hens).

3 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 ½ cups wild rice blend

Bring the broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in the rice, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until the rice is cooked and fluffy, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat, and fluff with a fork.

For the Wild Rice Stuffing:

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup chopped shallots

½ cup minced carrot

½ cup minced celery

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

1/2 tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage (or a chopped poultry herb mix)

½ cup dried tart cherries

¼ cup chopped parsley

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Zest of 1 orange

1.     Heat the 4 tablespoons of butter in a medium sauté pan, over medium-high heat. Add the shallots, carrot, celery, and grated ginger. Season with salt and pepper.

2.     Cook the vegetables until softened and starting to brown, 6-8 minutes.

3.     Stir in the chopped sage and cook for 1 minute.

4.     Add the cooked rice, tart cherries, parsley, vinegar, and orange zest. Reduce the heat to low, stir, and cook until the ingredients are evenly mixed, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and set aside (or refrigerate) until ready to stuff and cook the hens.

For the Cornish hens:

8 brined Cornish game hens

10 tbsp Highlands Butter Co.’s Barrel Rested Maple Butter, or unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 tbsp chopped fresh sage

2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme

4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper

1.     Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a wire rack inside a large-rimmed baking sheet (at least 19 x 13 inches). Repeat with a second rack and baking sheet.

2.     Divide the stuffing equally among the hens, spooning about ½ cup stuffing into the cavity of each hen. Tie the legs of each hen together with a 6-inch piece of kitchen twine.

3.     Generously butter the hens, then season with the chopped herbs, salt, and pepper.

4.     Leaving as much space as possible between each hen, arrange them on the prepared rack-lined baking sheets, breast-side down and wings facing out.

5.     Roast until the backs are golden brown, about 25 minutes.

6.     Roast until the hens are golden with some browning and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the stuffed cavity registers about 150 degrees, about 50-60 minutes.

7.     Remove the hens from the oven and let them rest for 20 minutes.

8.     In the meantime, arrange them on a platter, and garnish, and prepare the gravy.

RECIPE, STORY AND STYLING BY QUELCY KOGEL

PHOTOGRAPHY BY JEFF SWENSEN

Follow your cornish hen feast with one of TABLE’s sumptuous sweets:

Earl of Darkness Chocolate Tart

Orange Olive Oil Cake

Saffron Panna Cotta

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