As Canadian expats living in the US, we get to celebrate two Thanksgivings! Canadian Thanksgiving being the second Monday in October, and American Thanksgiving being the fourth Thursday in November. I love the idea of giving thanks for what we have and am perfectly happy to celebrate it as many times as I can! Also, the whole food situation isn’t too bad either. Often, we don’t get the opportunity to spend one or the other of these holidays with family or friends, so we do a small dinner for just the two of us at home. Which is when I roast a Cornish Game Hen. It is the perfect size if you are cooking a holiday dinner for one or two, and don’t want to roast an entire chicken or turkey. The crispy skin method from Niki Achitoff-Gray over at Serious Eats is soooo simple and works perfectly with all poultry, including these little guys! This year, I served it on a bed of Wild Rice Stuffing (which is really a pilaf, but stuffing sounds more festive). The rice dish is vegan and, if you omit the chestnuts, allergen-free!
As it specifies in the directions, you will want to truss, or tie, your hen before seasoning it. Trussing birds is quite simple with this how-to video from Jacques Pépin. The Cornish Hen is small enough that you don’t need to worry about deboning before trussing. You can skip to 1:03 for trussing.
Roast Cornish Game Hen
- 1 regular Cornish Game hen unfrozen
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp pepper fresh cracked
- 1 tsp herbs de provence
In a large bag, mix salt, baking powder, pepper and herbs
Pat the hen dry, inside and out, and truss (see directions in post)
Put the hen in the bag and shake until it is completely coated in the baking powder mix
Remove the hen from the bag and lay gently on a rack and let it rest for 12 -24 hours
30 minutes before you're ready to bake your hen, preheat the oven to 450°F
Roast, on the rack you had it resting on in the fridge, for 25 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350°F and roast for another 20 minutes.
Wild Rice Stuffing
- 1 cup wild rice
- 3 cups chicken bone broth (or vegetable broth)
- 1 small fennel
- 1 large leek
- 3 tbsp butter, ghee, duck fat or olive oil
- 5 whole chestnuts
- 1 cup grapes
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 300°F. Wash grapes and pat dry, then toss in oil, vinegar and vanilla. Spread out on a foil-lined baking tray and roast for 1-2 hours, or until soft and fragrant.
Rinse rice and place in thick bottom, medium sized pot with chicken stock. With the lid on, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Then reduce heat to lowest setting, keeping the lid on, and cook for 45 minutes - 1 hour, or until soft enough to eat.
While the rice and grapes are cooking, finely dice the fennel, leek and chestnuts. Melt the butter (or substitute) over medium heat then fry the veg and chestnuts until soft and fragrant. If you are using oil, reduce the amount to two tablespoons, rather than three.
Once everything is cooked, toss together. You can keep it warm in the oven if it's in a covered dish, while you're roasting your hen. If it's going to be in for more than 30 minutes, add 1/2 cup more stock to keep it from drying out.