Nov 9, 2010

Roast Cornish Hens with Stuffing and Vegetable Side Dish Options

Ok, throw away all of your Halloween candy and make room on your hips for the good stuff! Thanksgiving and Christmas are rapidly approaching and we decided to dedicate the next few blog posts to holiday menu ideas – from the turkey itself to different kinds of stuffing and sides; we’ve got your holidays covered.
Monica's Version: Cornish Game Hen
This is a great roasting recipe that would be fantastic with your turkey, or as Monica suggested, if having only a few guests for Thanksgiving try making individual Cornish game hens. The herbs go perfectly with the chicken and if done right, the skin is browned and crispy. We roasted a Cornish game hen and a young chicken – with the same recipe to show how incredibly easy and tasty it is, then we paired it with 2 different stuffings and sides. Caitlin made an apple, pear and walnut stuffing; for the side she made green beans with caramelized onions and bacon. Monica made a corn bread stuffing and roasted parsnips on the side.

*Scroll down for stuffing and veggie side recipes.

Caitlin: Incredibly simple roasting recipe – if you try it with your Thanksgiving turkey (with plenty of basting), your family is in for a treat. That is, if you plan on actually cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year – if your holidays are anything like ours sometimes you’ll end up eating 2 meals; one at your parents, another at your in-laws and the time in between is spent driving, unbuttoning your pants and wondering how you can possibly fit in more turkey. Ah, the joys of the holidays – gluttony at its finest!
I decided to make a stuffing, incorporating a couple different recipe ideas (from Martha, the Thanksgiving queen) – it was simple and versatile enough to be eaten as is, or possibly with adding more ingredients to it, such as dried fruit, nuts or sausage, perhaps. However, I made 2 – the first batch was too moist; I made the mistake of adding too much chicken broth and forgetting that the juices from the meat also run into the stuffing. Alas, my second batch was much better – it wasn’t cooked in the chicken, but the flavor and texture were spot on.
Caitlin's Version: Roast Young Chicken
Monica:  If planning a smaller-scale celebration over the holidays, cornish game hens are the perfect alternative. They are flavorful and when served with the perfect side dishes, make a meal special. The meat was moist and the flavors were enhanced with the pan sauce. This recipe is versatile and allows you to add your favorite herbs and spices.  I chose to add fresh thyme along with the rosemary in the original recipe. I served the hens with a cornbread dressing with dried apricots and caramelized rosemary parsnips. 

Ingredient List
4 Cornish Game Hens, or Young Chicken (whole)
salt and pepper to taste
1 lemon, quartered
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 tablespoons olive oil
24 cloves garlic
1/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth
4 sprigs fresh rosemary, for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Rub hens with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Lightly season hen with salt and pepper. Place 1 lemon wedge and 1 sprig rosemary in cavity of each hen. Arrange in a large, heavy roasting pan, and arrange garlic cloves around hens. Roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes. *If you plan on cooking the stuffing inside – place lemon slices and herbs under the skin, then stuff the cavity with your stuffing.

Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a mixing bowl, whisk together wine, chicken broth, and remaining 2 tablespoons of oil; pour over hens. Continue roasting about 25 minutes longer, or until hens are golden brown and juices run clear. Baste with pan juices every 10 minutes. *If using a young chicken, continue cooking for another 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature is 175 degrees.

Transfer hens to a platter, pouring any cavity juices into the roasting pan. Tent hens with aluminum foil to keep warm. Transfer pan juices and garlic cloves to a medium saucepan and boil until liquids reduce to a sauce consistency, about 6 minutes. Cut hens in half lengthwise and arrange on plates. Spoon sauce and garlic around hens. Garnish with rosemary sprigs, and serve.

Apple, Pear and Walnut Stuffing (serves 12)

Ingredient List
1 loaf day old crusty bread – suggest and Italian loaf
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 apple – peeled, cored and chopped
1 pear – cored and chopped
½ cup chicken stock
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
s&p, to taste
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup walnuts, or chestnuts – crushed

Cut bread into ¾ inch cubes, and put on a baking sheet. Let sit for 3 hours to dry – or place in the oven (350) for a few minutes until dry, but don’t overtoast. When done, place in a large bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350. Heat oil in a large pan; add the onions, celery and garlic – cook on a low heat for about 7 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Add the apples and pears and cook for another 7 minutes. Add to the bread.

Add the stock to bread, and toss. Add the herbs, s&p, and eggs, mix well. Add the chopped nuts.

If you’re baking it into the stuffing, stuff the cavity ¾ of the way full – it expands when cooking. If cooking it in a baking dish, place into a 9x13 dish and cover with foil. Bake 30 minutes, remove the foil and bake another 25 minutes.

Cornbread Dressing w/Dried Apricots & Fresh Rosemary

There are so many recipes for stuffing to choose from, that at times, it can be difficult to find the “perfect” one to serve for your holiday feast. Personally, I prefer a more traditional stuffing, and I feel that this recipe offers the traditional with just a bit of a twist (the dried apricots and fresh rosemary). You can opt to use homemade corn bread, however, I decided to use a box of La Brea Bakery’s Corn Bread stuffing which is basically corn bread croutons with dried sage and thyme. So what you decide to use as your corn bread base, is up to you.  

Ingredient List
1 cup dried apricots
1 cup water
3 tbs unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tbs minced fresh rosemary
2 tsp. minced fresh sage
3 celery stalks, chopped
8 cups crumbled corn bread or 1 Box of La Brea Bakery Cornbread Stuffing
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock, warmed

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter a large, shallow baking dish.

In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the apricots and water and bring just to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and let the apricots stand until softened, about 10 minutes.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the butter is hot, add the onion and celery and sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary and sage and sauté, stirring frequently until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the apricots and their liquid, bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has nearly evaporated, 4 to 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the corn bread, the veggie mixture, salt and pepper and stir gently to mix.  Add the warmed stock and stir to blend. Adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Transfer the dressing to the prepared baking dish and bake until the top is browned and crispy 1 hour – 1 ½ hours.  Serves 12.

Green Beans w/Caramelized Onions Topped with Crispy Bacon (Serves 4)

Ingredient List
1 tbsp butter
½ onion, sliced
1 ½ tbsp sugar
Fresh green beans
3 slices of bacon

Cook the bacon until it’s crispy, crumble it and set aside.

Heat the butter in a skillet and add the onions and sugar. Caramelize for about 5-7 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the green beans and sauté for about 7-10 minutes. Remove from skillet and top with the crispy bacon.

Rosemary-Caramelized Parsnips

Roasting parsnips (or any root vegetable) makes them deliciously, candy sweet.  The addition of rosemary and an apple cider glaze enhances their roasted flavor. The great thing about this recipe is that it can also be used to cook other root vegetables including carrots or turnips.

Ingredient List
1 lb parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise
1 tbs unsalted butter, melted
1 tbs olive oil
¼ cup apple cider or unfiltered apple juice
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbs chopped fresh rosemary
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the parsnips on a large baking sheet with sides. Drizzle with the melted butter, olive oil, apple cider, and vinegar; sprinkle with rosemary, salt, and pepper and toss to coat. 

Spread the parsnips in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast, stirring or shaking the pan occasionally, for 30 to 35 minutes, until they are tender and caramel colored. 

Remove the parsnips from the oven, season with additional rosemary, salt, and pepper. Serve immediately.

If using a young chicken, you can cook the stuffing inside the cavity. However, make sure the internal temperature is at least 175 degrees. As an added measure, you can take the stuffing out of the chicken, and continue cooking it for another few minutes in a baking dish to get a nice, crispy top.

Caitlin: An album I can’t get enough of – Okkervil River, Stage Names. Love it.
Monica: The complete meal was a great combination of home-cooked goodness, so the music I played reflected that.
1)  “Stardust” Willie Nelson
2)  “Homeward Bound” Simon and Garfunkel
3)  “Dog Days are Over” Florence and the Machine
4)  “El Carretero” Buena Vista Social Club
5)  “Back in Baby’s Arms” Patsy Cline

Drink of Choice
Caitlin: I think white wine goes best with roast chicken and you’re already using some for the sauce. Why let a perfectly good bottle go to waste?
Monica: I chose to serve Coppola Pinot Grigio, it was the perfect compliment to the richer flavors of the meal.

A Recipe to Remember
Yes, it’s easy and versatile enough to do with other meats.


  1. wow...what an incredible meal!! I love the cornish hens, and both stuffings look delicious, but I am just blown away by those parsnips!!!
    Thanks for sharing your creations and welcome to Foodbuzz!

  2. Thank you Dennis! We are excited about being part of Foodbuzz.

  3. Found your blog because I'm on a green bean recipe search for Thanksgiving and I don't mean the soup one! lol... I am probably going to make your carmelized onion bacon and green beans recipe; I just want to say though sauted onions until transluscent 5-7 minutes is not "carmelized"... Carmelized onions are brown and takes about 20 minutes.. Sorry it's the perfectionist in me... :)

  4. There's no way to "caramelize" onions in 5-7 minutes. You can heat them, sure, but to get the deep browning and high sugar content (that's what it means), it takes 45 min. to an hour.