Cornish hens filled with a classic Greek stuffing are an elegant alternative to a holiday turkey. These are great for a crowd and perfect if you’re making dinner for 2.
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- 4 game hens (1 and ½ - 2 pounds each)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- Herbed Butter:
- • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- • 2 cloves garlic, minced
- • Zest of 2 lemons
- • ¼ cup lemon juice
- • 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
- Stuffing: (enough for 4-5 hens)
- • 1-pound ground beef
- • ½ cup basmati rice
- • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- • 3 garlic cloves, minced
- • 1 cup pureed canned tomatoes
- • ¼ cup olive oil
- • 1 cup water
- • Pinch of crushed red pepper
- • Salt (about 1 teaspoon)
- • Black pepper
- • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- • 1/2 cup cranberries
- • 1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted
Preheat oven 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius)
Prepare the stuffing first. Place the onions and garlic cloves with the olive oil in a pot and cook over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until soft and golden. Mash the garlic once it has softened.
Add ground beef and break it up while browning a bit. Add canned tomato puree, ½ teaspoon salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and cook approximately 20 minutes. Add oregano and mix well.
Add rice, 1 cup of water, raisins, and a teaspoon of salt and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to very low and cover the pot. Allow the rice to simmer covered for 15 minutes. Do not uncover the pot to check on the rice until the 15 minutes have not passed.
Toast the pine nuts in a small pan over medium heat about 5-6 minutes tossing often to avoid burning. Set aside.
Add chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts and mix well. Set aside and allow to cool completely.
Time to stuff the hens. Wash them with cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Make sure they are completely dry so that the seasoning sticks to them.
Season the cavity well with salt.
Fill the hens with about 1 cup of the rice filling. Transfer the remaining filling to a small baking tray and pour 1 cup of chicken broth over it. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes covered. Remove foil and bake 15 minutes uncovered or until the top is golden and crisp. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Prepare the herb butter by combining the melted butter, minced garlic, lemon zest and juice, salt and chopped rosemary. Mix well.
Brush the hens all over with the herb butter. Season with more salt and pepper.
Place the tray in the center rack of the oven and roast 55-65 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit and their juices run clear.
Remove from the oven and let them rest at least 15 minutes before serving.