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23 Nov

Cornish Game Hens with Egg and Sausage Stuffing

GameHens1

Turkey is a tricky bird to cook, requiring elaborate brining and seasoning rituals and a few Hail Marys to turn out moist and flavorful meat. Whether it’s for Thanksgiving or some other festive meal, you can take the pressure off by ditching the turkey for a smaller, moister and quite elegant little bird, the Cornish game hen.

Cornish game hens are single-serving birds that roast in an hour or less. In this recipe the hens are simply seasoned with butter, salt and pepper then stuffed with a rich and satisfying blend of eggs, sausage and herbs. This meaty stuffing makes regular old bread stuffing seem like a stale substitute.

Your guests will be thrilled to have their own individual bird, especially when they discover the delicious stuffing hidden inside. Served with all your favorite holiday sides, it’s a stress-free meal that will leave everyone full and happy.

Servings: 4

Time in the Kitchen: 1 1/2 hours

Ingredients:

ingredients 15
  • 4 Cornish Game Hens
  • 1 pound ground pork (450 g)
  • 1 teaspoon fennels seeds (5 ml)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (60 ml)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage (15 ml)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (60 ml)
  • 1 leek, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery (150 g)
  • 4 eggs, whisked

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 425 °F (218 °C).

Pat the game hens dry. Set aside.

Over medium-high heat brown the sausage with the fennel seeds, breaking the meat up into small pieces as it cooks. Season the meat with salt, pepper, parsley and sage. Transfer the cooked meat into a large bowl and set aside.

sausage

If there is not enough pork grease left in the pan, then melt 1 to 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the leek and celery and saute until the veggies begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the eggs, stirring just enough to scramble the eggs until they are cooked through.

eggs

Mix the eggs with the meat.

Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Rub the melted butter all over the birds and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Stuff each bird with the egg and meat mixture.

stuffed hen

**Note that there might be some stuffing leftover, but if your hands have touched the raw hens then dipped into the bowl of stuffing, you won’t want to eat the extra stuffing. To avoid this, set 1 cup of the stuffing aside and use it only if needed to add more stuffing to the birds.

Pull the flaps of fat at the tail end of the hens over the open cavity and skewer closed with toothpicks. Tuck wing tips under or cut them off.

Roast the Cornish game hens on a rack in a roasting pan that’s large enough so the birds aren’t touching.

roasting birds

Roast for about 1 hour until cooked through and a thermometer inserted into the thigh and into the center of the stuffing in the cavity reaches 165 °F (74 °C).

GameHens2

Stuffing Safety Tips

Do NOT stuff the birds early and let them sit around before roasting, even if you store them in the refrigerator. Only add the stuffing immediately before roasting the birds.

Ideally, the egg and sausage mixture should still be warm or hot when you stuff it into the hens. This helps the stuffing quickly heat up to a safe temperature in the oven, reducing the risk of bacteria growth.

Make sure the temperature of the stuffing in the middle of cavity reaches 165 °F (74 °C) before taking the hens out of the oven.

You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. I think this will be our Christmas dinner.

    Debi wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  2. Looks good and I have to go shopping today so I may have to gather some of those little hens. Thanks Mark.

    2Rae wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  3. Speaking of turkey, I’ve never understood the brining fad. IMO, it makes the meat taste more like turkey lunchmeat than real roast turkey, and the salt overload makes the drippings completely unusable. I’ve never had a problem turning out a moist, delicious bird without messing with brine.

    Shary wrote on November 23rd, 2013
    • I totally agree! My Mom never brined and neither do I. It’s all about low and slow… Even the breast meat is succulent. :)

      Robin wrote on November 23rd, 2013
      • You should really try the paperbag method! No brine, a little salt, pepper, poultry seasoning if thats your thing, and fat of choice (I like butter) and then you butter the inside of a paperbag. Slide the turkey in, staple closed, place in roasting pan and away you go. I only stuff the bird with onions, celery, carrots, and maybe an orange or lemon or apple. The paperbag is self basting and generally takes only 10-15 minutes a pound as opposed to the 20-30 most people take.

        Hannah Hawley wrote on November 26th, 2013
        • That’s my Mom’s secret to her pie crust…. Paper bags!!! Now I gotta figure out a good pie crust that is primal…..

          Bob wrote on November 28th, 2013
  4. Not quite turducken but damn nice anyway!

    goldfish wrote on November 23rd, 2013
  5. That looks delicious. I haven’t had one of those little birds in years. I’m going to have to devour one of them.

    Matt wrote on November 24th, 2013
  6. Last time I had Cornish game hen I was about 6 years old (35 years ago, lol). Didn’t like it.

    Time to try it again to see if my taste buds have changed.

    beachbound wrote on November 24th, 2013
  7. Probably the best recipe is Cornish game hen with jalapeno sauerkraut stuffing.

    Zebram wrote on November 24th, 2013
  8. Cornish hens are great for families with children. I used to split them, set them over stuffing on a baking sheet, and roast. They cook quickly and are the perfect portions for kids. Once a half hen isn’t enough, the kids will let you know.

    Nannsi wrote on November 25th, 2013
  9. On the subject of brining… I’ve never done it for a turkey in the oven.
    In the smoker, always!! The cooking method is different on the smoker and the meat does come out moister this way. I use a buttermilk based brine. Just like southern fried chicken. 12 hours in the brine and then on the smoker with pecan or apple wood.

    Bob wrote on November 26th, 2013
  10. I am not into brining either. I was taught to put an apple or orange in the neck and it keeps the bird moist. This stuffing sounds so yummy, I might just make it for dinner tonight. I am not on Turkey duty this year.

    Shirley wrote on November 27th, 2013

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