I know I’ve said this before but, Recipe Sunday is baaaaaa-aaaaack!! It’s been a little over a year since I last posted a Recipe Sunday and I have no excuses for my sudden cooking silence. Well, actually, I have plenty of excuses – things got busy, our business expanded into three, we’ve got seven employees and a studio now, we moved across the city, we’ve been flying across the country, bladdy-blah-blah-blah. Nothing but excuses coming from this side of town. But do you want to know the real reason for no Recipe Sundays for over a year?
I couldn’t find any recipes. Seriously. Nothing I found was the right fit and it got so bad that I finally gave up. Lame-(to the)-O.
So a few months back, I got my booty in gear and enlisted the help of my fellow wanna-be kitchen goddess friend, who recently launched her own simply adorable blog. She has four girls all under the age of six (talk about a goddess, my friends) so I figured she would be able to find those delicious gourmet recipes that anybody can make with little prep and little know-how. I mean, those little mouths aren’t exactly patient when you tell them, “We just need to develop a little more flavor in the roux, sweetheart. We’ll eat in about two more hours, ok?”
So my-friend-the-Supermom gathered ten delicious recipes, and we spent two full days cooking, shooting, and eating in preparation for another series of Recipe Sunday. Let’s call this Season Four, shall we? Then I won’t feel so bad about the inexplicable break in episodes…
The timing of the season four premiere couldn’t have been more perfect as it lines up with my most favorite time of year – Thanksgiving! I’m not a fan of plain ‘ol giant turkeys, so I’m always looking for an alternative main dish for Thanksgiving dinner, and Supermom found these Cranberry Stuffed Cornish Game Hens from Martha Stewart that will keep your guests flooding back to your house every year. The skin is crispy, the stuffing is sweet, and the sauce – oh my the sauce! This thickened cranberry port wine sauce will fill your dreams until next November!
The ingredients are simple and basic with rye bread, mushrooms, cranberries, garlic and leeks – I love this recipe already!
A bit of port and sage rounds out the flavor profile.
First, prep the stuffing by cutting the bread into small cubes and drying out them in a warm oven. Keep the cubes small – remember these are teeny game hens!
Slice up the leeks, a bit of parsley, the sage, and the mushrooms.
Soften up the mushrooms and leeks by quickly sautéing them in the diced garlic.
Once the veggies and bread are ready, toss them in a bowl with the herbs, cranberries, and 1/2 cup of chicken broth.
Toss until everything is wet. You don’t want dry stuffing – blech.
Have kitchen twine, salt and pepper, and butter handy while you fill each hen with the stuffing mixture. The hens usually come frozen most of the year, and are already cleaned and prepped, so it makes the process easy. Just de-thaw them completely and rinse with cool water. Oh, and make sure to play with them and make them dance a jig before stuffing. Otherwise, everything just falls out and you’ll have to start over.
Once the birds are stuffed, tie their little legs together with kitchen twine so nothing falls out.
Rub their skin with TONS of butter and then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. The butter will make the skin crispy, so don’t skip this step! Place them on a roasting rack on a roasting pan and stick in the oven for 30 minutes at 450 degrees to crisp the skin, and then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees for fifteen to twenty minutes more or until they reach the correct internal temperature of 170 degrees. These cook up much faster than a turkey!
When the birds are finished, set them aside to rest and place the roasting pan on the stove to make the port wine sauce with the drippings.
The port wine will deglaze the pan and thicken up into a delicious sauce!
These birds are sooooo delicious and are the perfect replacement for the time-consuming turkey! Love them!
Cranberry Stuffed Cornish Game Hens
- 8 ounces rye bread (about 1/2 loaf), trimmed of crust and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced into half-moons, and rinsed well
- 3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean, and coarsely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus leaves (optional), for garnish
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 3/4 cup reduced-fat, low-sodium canned chicken broth
- 6 Cornish game hens (1 1/2 pounds each)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup port
1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out diced bread on a rimmed baking sheet; toast in oven, turning occasionally, until light brown and dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside.
2. Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add leek, mushrooms, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl; stir in bread, chopped sage, parsley, mustard, thyme, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup broth.
3. Spoon stuffing into bird cavities; tie legs together with kitchen twine. Rub birds with butter, then sprinkle with pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
4. Arrange birds on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thighs (avoiding bone) registers 170 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer rack with birds to a rimmed baking sheet, and let rest.
5. Set roasting pan on top of stove across two burners; set heat to medium-high. Add port and remaining 1/4 cup broth; deglaze pan, scraping up any browned bits from bottom with a wooden spoon. Add remaining 1/4 cup dried cranberries; cook, stirring, until sauce reduces slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.
6. Place birds on a serving platter, and drizzle sauce over them. Garnish with sage leaves, if desired, and serve.