This stuffed Cornish hen recipe is inexpensive and super elegant. Cornish hens are great for small gatherings. We are going to stuff these with quinoa, pine nuts, cranberries and veggies. You can go ahead and substitute the pine nuts for walnuts or almonds and the cranberries for green apple or raisins.
Please note that the times that I give you are a guide. All ovens are different and foods can take longer or less time depending on the conditions. If you are at a high altitude, for example, your food will take longer to cook. So make sure your hens are properly cooked through before you serve them. Do not eat raw poultry meat. It will make you sick.
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2 Cornish hens
3 TBS unsalted butter
1 TBS olive oil + some for rubbing on the skin
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 leek – sliced
2 garlic cloves – minced
2 sage leaves – coarsely chopped
1 small celery stalk – chopped
½ a cup of julienne carrots
2 TBS of pine nuts
¼ cup dried cranberries
Salt & Pepper
2 Meyer lemons or 1 ½ regular ones
1 tsp. lemon zest
Place the sliced leeks into a large bowl of water and carefully separate the layers making sure to release any dirt. Change your water a couple of times and drain.
Melt 1 TBS butter and olive oil in a skillet and add the leeks, one garlic clove, sage, celery and carrots. Mix and sauté for five to six minutes until the veggies are softened.
Place the pine nuts into a small dry skillet and toast them, shaking the pan often, for a few minutes until they are aromatic a slightly browned. Watch out not to burn them.
Add the cooked veggies and the toasted pine nuts to the cooked quinoa in a bowl. Add the cranberries and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
Heat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).
Rinse and pat dry the Cornish hens. Season both sides with salt and pepper and the juice of ½ a lemon per side. Drizzle with some olive oil and rub it into the skin.
Stuff the cavities with the quinoa making sure to impact it as you go. Tie the legs together over the cavity and place the hens in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
While the hens are roasting melt the remaining 2 TBS of butter in a small skillet. Add the remaining minced garlic and lemon zest. Add the juice of the remaining lemon and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and remove from the heat.
Take the hens out of the oven after 20 minutes and baste them with the butter. Make sure you go under the wings and thighs. Return the hens to the oven and cook for another 20 minutes.
Repeat the basting process and finish cooking for approximately 20 more minutes.
Remove the hens from the oven and loosely tent the pan with aluminum foil. Allow the juices to settle for about 10 minutes before halving.
Cut the Cornish hens in half and serve. Enjoy.
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