I have been reading cooking magazines since middle school and the Cornish hens looked something made from Le Cordon Bleu. Cornish Hens are basically young chickens that are great for roasting. I couldn’t wait to add this to my repertoire. As I was going through “Barefoot Contessa at Home” by Ina Garten, I found the recipe called Cornish Hens with Cornbread Stuffing. It was a perfect home cooked meal that felt like a mini Thanksgiving.
At the grocery store, I could only find frozen Cornish hens. It would have been better if they weren’t frozen because it took me some time to thaw them. At least they had the giblets removed already, so that part helped. Once they were no longer frozen, I could finally do the normal steps of the recipe.
I made homemade cornbread for the stuffing using the recipe on the back of the cornmeal box. You could use any cornbread mix or even store bought cornbread if you do not have time. It is best to prepare the chopped vegetables (celery & onion) ahead of time to make it quicker later. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the chopped onion and sauté for 8 minutes until translucent. Take the pan off the heat and add the celery, parsley, crumbled cornbread, and chicken stock. Combine together and set aside.
For frozen or fresh Cornish hens, rinse them with water and pat dry, so the seasoning will stick to the outside. The recipe says a roasting pan, but I just used a rimmed baking sheet. Slice the onions and lay in the middle of the baking sheet. Place the hens breast side up (I did not do this right the first time. I found out when I was trying to tie the legs together). Sprinkle the insides of the hens with salt and pepper, then stuff the hens with the cornbread stuffing. If there is any stuffing leftover, just bake it in a separate pan. Using kitchen string, tie the legs of the Cornish hens together. Tuck the wings underneath. Melt the butter to brush the skin of the hens. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Roast the Cornish hens for 50 to 60 minutes until the skin is browned. Use a knife to cut between the leg and thigh. If the juices run clear, they are all set! Tent the Cornish hens for 15 minutes to let them rest. Resting is to let the meat sit to help remove the majority of the juices before plating.
I found that the Cornish hens have more flavor than chickens. Cooking stuffed Cornish hens is a great way to get some practice stuffing a turkey before Thanksgiving since it is right around the corner–I cannot wait because it is my favorite holiday!