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Playing Sara Moulton's Thanksgiving Hens


  • 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


Serves: 4 servings




Preheat the oven to 375F; 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 475F.



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.