As some of you may know, I write a quarterly article for Allrecipes Magazine, which requires producing the content months in advance, and this cranberry stuffed game hen recipe is going to be my item in the November issue. And yes, you should buy the magazine anyway.
If you’re cooking for a smaller group during the holidays, game hens are a fantastic way to downsize, without losing any of the special occasion feel. What we have is basically a miniaturized version of the traditional holiday turkey, featuring an easy, walnut bread and dried cranberry stuffing.
If you’ve never worked with game hens before, they’re very user friendly. Even stuffed to excess, they only roast for about an hour in a hot oven, and as long as you don’t overcook them (use a thermometer!), you’ll be enjoying the kind of juicy, flavorful meat that people cooking turkey only dream of.
As far as portioning goes, half a bird makes a nice serving, but I suggest doing one hen per person. I’m sorry, but regardless of bird-size, a holiday meal without leftovers is just not a holiday meal. So, whether you’re looking for a smaller, more manageable menu, or just want to feel bigger in proportion to your poultry, I hope you give these “micro turkeys” a try soon. Enjoy!
Ingredients for Cranberry & Walnut Stuffed Game Hens
(Makes 2 whole or 4 half portions)
2 whole game hens (about 1 1/4 pounds each), fully dressed, and seasoned with salt to taste
For the stuffing:
3 tbsp butter
1/4 cup minced shallots
2 tbsp chopped green onions
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups toasted, crispy walnut bread cubes
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp dried sage
1 tsp freshly minced rosemary
1 large egg, beaten
For the sauce:
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup fresh cranberries
2/3 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
- Roast at 400 degrees F. oven for about an hour or until the internal temperature in the middle of the thigh is 160 F. Let rest, covered loosely in foil for about 10 minutes, while the sauce is completed.