Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Can you believe it? I’m especially excited this year because Mike and I are going to leave our midwest roots and spend time relaxing and exploring in Colorado. Traveling over the holiday meant that our Thanksgiving Day feast plans were up in the air, but Mike and I recently tested his Cranberry Stuffed Game Hens recipe and it was so good, we’re going to make it while we’re in the mountains. If you’re looking to simplify the feast this Thanksgiving, without compromising on delicious flavors, this recipe is a unique way to do it.
First of all, I love the size of the game hens. One hen can easily serve two people, which is convenient when you can’t store a bunch of leftovers or aren’t hosting that many people. We picked ours up from Marianos. Two frozen game hens come in each package which costs $6.00. Not too shabby, right?
Second, the cranberry stuffing is incredible. I recommend buying freshly made bread from the market and making two batches of the recipe below. We couldn’t seem to get enough of it between the two of us.
Third, this recipe is not an all day cooking process. It only takes a couple of hours and smells so amazing as it roasts in the oven. It’s like getting all the highlights of a Thanksgiving feast without the effort. There’s nothing wrong with pouring yourself a tasty drink and relaxing a little more over the holiday, am I right?
Early next week I’m sharing a super easy, 5-ingredient dessert that you can also bring to the table… or, just keep the recipe on hand for something sweet. It’s not a classic pumpkin pie, but it does involve pumpkin. Be sure to stick around to find out what it is.
If you want even more holiday recipe ideas for inspiration, you should check out some popular Thanksgiving Side Recipes below:
Cranberry Stuffed Game Hens
For the stuffing:
2 cups 1/2 bread cubes
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup shallots, minced
2 tablespoons scallions, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
1 pinch cayenne pepper
1 large egg, beaten
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs rosemary
2 cornish game hens
For the sauce:
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup fresh cranberries
2 tablespoons maple syrup
For the stuffing:
1. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.
2. Spread bread cubes amongst a baking sheet.
3. Toast in the oven until golden brown, 20-40 minutes and transfer to a bowl.
4. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
5. Add the shallots and scallions to the skillet, mix with the butter and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
6. Add the dried cranberries to the shallots. Stir until cooked through, about 2-3 minutes.
7. Pour the chicken broth into the skillet and bring to a simmer.
8. Pour mixture over the bread cubes and stir until the liquid is absorbed.
9. Season with chopped thyme, minced rosemary, sage, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
10. Mix the beaten egg into the bread mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit while the liquid absorbs, about 15 minutes.
For the hens and sauce:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Drizzle the bottom of a roasting pan with olive oil and sprigs of fresh thyme and fresh rosemary.
3. Season the cavities of the hens with a generous amount of salt.
4. Stuff each hen with about half of the bread-cranberry mixture.
5. Tie the legs together and carefully set each in the roasting pan on top of the thyme and rosemary.
6. Brush hens with olive oil and salt and pepper.
7. Bake the hens in the oven until no longer pink at the bone and the juices are clear, about 1 hour. An instant read thermometer should read 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh.
8. Remove hens from the roasting pan and lightly cover with foil on a plate. Let rest for 10 minutes.
9. Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat.
10. Stir in chicken broth, fresh cranberries and maple syrup.
11. Bring to a boil and scrape up the brown bits of food from the pan.
12. Cook and stir until the sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes.
13. Spoon the sauce over the hens and serve.
All images ©Regan Baroni 2017.