Roast Cornish Hens Stuffed with Wild Rice, Cranberries, Bacon & Mushrooms

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Years ago, during my boarding school days, we would sometimes get Roast Cornish Hens with Cranberry Rice Stuffing on the weekends.  It was one of my favourite meals, and it was on my mind recently when I was thinking of what to make over Christmas.  As luck would have it, I picked up a complimentary copy of Flavours magazine and I found this recipe!

OK, so I didn’t end up following the recipe exactly, because I didn’t have all the ingredients.  I skipped the cranberries, substituted toasted sliced almonds for the pine nuts, and brown rice for wild rice.  And, to my disappointment, because the store was practically sold out of them, I didn’t even end up using cornish hens!  So I had to buy a chicken instead.

But it turned out well and wow, was it ever delicious –  I couldn’t stop eating the wild rice stuffing!  It was good I decided to make more of it, otherwise I wouldn’t have had any left to stuff the chicken!

Here’s the original recipe from Flavours magazine.  I still intend to try this recipe with cornish hens one of these days…

(Recipe by Brandon Boone)

ROAST CORNISH HENS STUFFED WITH WILD RICE, CRANBERRIES, BACON & MUSHROOMS

Ingredients:

Wild Rice

1 cup (250 mL) chicken broth
1/2 cup (125 mL) wild rice
1 Tbsp (15 mL) butter
Pinch of sea salt

Stuffing

6 slices of thick sliced bacon
8 oz (250 g) button mushrooms, stemmed and quartered
1/2 cup (125 mL) dried cranberries
1/4 cup (60 mL) green onions
1/4 cup (60 mL) toasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper

Cornish Game Hens

4 Cornish game hens
8 sage leaves
1/4 cup (60 mL) room temperature butter
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Extra sage leaves for garnish

Method:

Wild Rice

1) Rinse rice under cold water.  Combine with stock, butter and sea salt in a pot with a tight-fitting lid set over medium-high heat.

2) Bring to a boil, cover and reduce to a simmer.  Cook for about 45 minutes or until rice is tender and split.

Stuffing

1) In a large skillet set over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp.

2) Remove bacon from pan and let cool.  Crumble into small pieces when cool to the touch.

3) Discard all but 1 Tbsp (15 mL) of bacon drippings from the pan.  Increase heat and add mushrooms to pan.  Sauté until browned.

4) In a large bowl, combine cooked rice, cranberries, bacon, green onions and pine nuts.

5) Season with salt and pepper.

Cornish Game Hens

1) Preheat oven to 375 F.

2) Gently loosen the skin from the beast portion of the hens.  Place roughly 1 Tbsp of butter evenly underneath the skin over the breasts of each hen.

3) Place 1 sage leaf under the skin on each breast as well.

4) Divide stuffing into 4 equal portions, then gently spoon into each bird’s cavity.

5) Brush each hen with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

6) Tie legs together with twine.  Place hens on an aluminum-lined baking pan and roast in the oven for about 1 hour or until a thermometer reaches 165 F.

7) Transfer hens to a serving platter, tent with foil for 10 minutes, then drizzle with any pan juices and garnish with sage leaves.  Serve immediately.

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