We are just a week away from Thanksgiving here in the States. A day well known for its table buckling early evening meal complete with turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, green bean casserole, yams, and cranberry sauce. It doesn’t matter where you go – it is always a lot of food. That’s rarely a problem in my family since I have 4 married siblings and nieces and nephews. We always have enough people to devour just about any turkey put before us. Sometimes though, there just aren’t that many people around the dinner table. I have one friend this year whose husband can’t take any vacation this year and so they are going to be celebrating just the 2 of them.
Understandably, my friend was pretty upset about missing Thanksgiving with family this year. Not only was she not going to be able to see family, but she was at a loss as to how to create her own Thanksgiving feast without being stuck with enough Turkey to last them until February. She doesn’t want to do roast a chicken because she doesn’t feel it is special enough for the holiday, so I suggested making Cornish Game Hens. My friend liked the idea and then asked me to help her out with a recipe, since she’d never cooked the birds before. So, I did some research and came across Martha Stewart’s maple-glazed hens, which I used as the starting point for this recipe. Roasting carrots and parsnips with the birds relieves some of the pressure of making side dishes. I served my practice game hen with a pineapple stuffing. For the actual holiday I would add homemade cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, and a small side of mashed potatoes. Thanksgiving dinner for 2!
Maple Glazed Cornish Game Hen
1 large game hen
2 tablespoons softened butter, divided
Half a lemon
1 large shallot, or quarter of red onion
½ cup Grade A Maple Syrup
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon cardamom
salt & pepper
3 medium-large carrots
2 large parsnips
1 small baking apple
1) Remove giblets, if present, from hen and rinse hen inside and out with cold water and place in a colander to drip dry. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2) Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small saucepan. Add cumin and cardamom, and about 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook for 30 seconds. Add maple syrup (tip, spray your measuring cup with Pam to make it easier to work with) and heat for about 1 minute, or until it is easy to whisk together the syrup and butter.
3) Pat game hen dry with a paper towel and place in a small pan. Take the remaining butter and rub it all over the outside of the bird. Salt and pepper the inside and outside of the game hen. Stuff the cavity with the lemon and shallots/onions. Use kitchen twine to tie the legs together and then tuck the wings underneath the trussed legs.
4) Place bird in oven for 15 minutes. During this time peel and cut carrots and parsnips into chunks approximately 1 inch in size. Chop apple into similar size chunks. Toss with olive oil and 3 tablespoons of the maple syrup mixture.
5) When the 15 minutes are up, take the bird out of oven and brush with the maple syrup glaze. Add carrots and parsnips to the pan and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
6) Once those 30 minutes are up, brush the bird with more glaze, stir the vegetables, and return for the oven for another 30 minutes. Repeat one more time.
7) At this point check to see if the bird is done using a meat thermometer, you want it to be between 180°F and 190°F. If it takes longer, feel free to brush with any leftover glaze.
8) Remove bird from oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.
**Adapted from Martha Stewart