Sara Moulton's Thanksgiving Hens
"Rock Cornish Game Hens, a cross between a White Rock Hen and a Cornish Hen are underrated. Maybe it’s because, ounce for ounce, they are a little more expensive than chicken or perhaps it’s because they are a little scary for people who are used to working with chicken in parts. But they are delicious indeed, and their greatest attribute is that they are “mini.” Each person gets his or her own bird. I thought it would be nice to come up with a recipe that mimics the Thanksgiving bird but can be made in one-tenth of the time. So these birds are stuffed a la Thanksgiving and served with a good old-fashioned pan gravy that you can whip up while the Cornish hens are resting." - Sara
- 6 frozen breakfast sausages
- 2 small onions
- 4 slices homemade-style white bread, torn into small pieces
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 Rock Cornish hens (1 to 1 1/4 pounds each), rinsed and dried
- 1/2 cup white wine or vermouth, optional
- 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Yields: 4 servings
Preheat the oven to 375°F; arrange the frozen sausages in a roasting pan and roast until cooked through, about 18 to 20 minutes. Set the sausages aside until they are cool enough to handle; then slice them into 1/4-inch thick slices. Reserve the pan. Turn up the heat to 475˚F.
Meanwhile, finely chop one onion and coarsely chop the other. Combine the sliced sausages, bread, finely chopped onion, 2 tablespoons of the butter, the sage, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Season the hens inside and out with an additional 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stuff each hen with one fourth of the bread mixture and tie the legs. Arrange the hens on a rack in a shallow roasting pan and drizzle the wine and remaining 1 tablespoon butter over them.
Roast the hens for 20 minutes; add the coarsely chopped onion to the pan. Continue roasting for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh joint registers 170° F. Transfer the hens to a platter, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the roasting pan on a burner; add the broth and bring to a boil scraping up the brown bits. Whisk together 1/4 cup water and the flour; add to the roasting pan and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Simmer 3 minutes. Serve the hens with the sauce.
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