Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall at the Farmhouse: Cornbread Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Roasted Root Vegetables

I have to tell you that I had the most fabulous weekend! My mama came down to visit for the weekend while the hubs was away on business. We did a whole bunch of antiquing and went to a whole lot of thrift stores. I even stumbled upon a gorgeous vintage faux fur leopard print double breasted coat- something I've been pining for, for at least the last year or two- all thanks to the mama! I gotta tell you, the girl knows how to shop when it comes to re-sale shopping! I can remember being a kid and hating when she dragged me to every garage sale and every antique shop. Funny thing is- the tables have turned! I dragged her to every antique, resale, or thrift store I could find this weekend. And we had the most fun along the way!

Maybe the best moment of the weekend (it's tough to choose because there were so many great moments!) was when we made a fabulous fall dinner at the farmhouse together. We chopped, cooked, chatted, drank plenty of wine, and even had The Golden Girls playing in the background. I don't think it gets any better! The weather was cool, crisp, and sunny and I was craving Fall flavors so we searched for a yummy fall recipe. We stumbled upon this dish on my Epicurious app on the ever trusty iphone and it was just what the doctor ordered.

Chicken isn't my favorite protein, but I love Cornish hens. They have more dark meat and are slightly richer in flavor, but still so much like chicken. I absolutely die for cornbread and stuffing so when this recipe called for cornbread stuffing- put a fork in me! I was done!! Nothing says fall like apples, cornbread, and stuffing! As for the roasted root veggies- it's nothing special, but when fall and winter come around, I can't wait to smell carrots, potatoes, parsnips, squash, and rutabaga roasting away in the oven. So as the cooler weather draws near and your craving the tastes of fall, give this menu a shot. It'll make your evening cozy and comforting, even if it ain't that cold out!

Cornbread Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

3 tbsp butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups diced, peeled, cored Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples
2 tsps chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups 1/2 inch cubes cornbread (about 11 ounces)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 tbsps fresh apple cider or fresh apple juice

Game hens:
4 Cornish game hens, rinsed and patted dry
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
2 tsps coarse kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
4 bacon slices, each halved crosswise

For stuffing:
Melt butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and celery. Saute until beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add apples, saute until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Mix in sage, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper. Transfer to a large bowl. Let stand until almost cool, about 10 minutes.

Mix cornbread into vegetables. Add egg and toss to blend. Mix in cheese, then enough apple cider by tablespoonfuls to form stuffing that is moist but not wet.

Game hens:
Sprinkle cavity of each hen lightly with salt and pepper. Pack 1 cup stuffing into each (place any leftover stuffing into buttered ramekins and cover with foil). Skewer cavities closed with toothpicks. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together to hold shape. Mix sage, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Sprinkle mixture over hens.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Place 2 hens in skillet. Saute until brown, turning often with wooden spoons, about 10 minutes. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet, breast side up. Repeat with remaining hens. Drape 2 bacon strip halves over breast of each hen. Using kitchen string, tie bacon strips in place. (Place any ramekins of stuffing on baking sheet with hens.)

Place hens in oven. Roast until cooked through and juices run clear when thigh is pierced, about 45 minutes. Cut string off hens. Transfer hens to plates and serve- about 1 hen per guest depending on size.

Roasted Root Vegetables

Any selection of root vegetables such as the following:

Peel and chop into large chunks. Mix with enough olive oil to coat. Toss with your favorite herbs. This time around I tossed with some Emeril's Essence and some fresh sage which we had leftover from the game hens. Roast in pre-heated oven at 375-400 degrees for 30-45 minutes, until vegetables are tender but not mushy.

Modern Housewife Tips:
1. Typically you would serve 1 hen per guest, but depending on your side dish and size of the hen, one hen for every two people could work. The mama and I shared one and it was just enough for the two of us.
2. This recipe calls for apple cider to mix with the stuffing to make it moist. I followed the recipe and found that the stuffing was a bit on the sweet side between the cornbread and the apple cider. Next time I'll try using chicken broth. I think the cornbread adds enough sweetness that it will be much more balanced if cut with a little bit of saltiness.
3. The recipe calls for bacon to be draped over the hens before you put in the oven. We weren't really feeling the bacon so I topped each hen with about a half a tbsp of butter- just enough to brown the skin and also give it a bit more flavor.

Recipe adapted from Bon Apetit, October 2008 by Bruce Aidells


  1. youre SUCH a pro!!! amazing emz!


  2. AMAZING!! I want to visit the farmhouse xo