Serves 12; Preheat Oven to 375o
Hipcooks note that individual game hens are an elegant take on a holiday standard, and small hens make for quick prep and cooking.
- 12 game hens
- sea salt, fresh ground pepper, olive oil
- fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, tarragon)
- 2 medium onions
- 10 spears of celery
- some garlic, if you fancy
- 4 tart apples, (Braeburn, Granny Smith), chopped
- handful of chopped pecans, toasted
- handful dried cranberries (optional)
- 1 pound cous cous - whole wheat or regular
Remove giblets, if any, from birds, chop and sauté all but the neck in a bit of olive oil or butter to add to the stuffing! Save the neck to season gravy or for soup later in the week.
Rinse birds, inside and out, pat dry and set aside until ready to stuff.
Meanwhile, sauté onions, celery and garlic in butter and, when soft, add apple. Cook for a couple minutes and add cous cous, stirring well so it has a chance to absorb all the fantastic flavors of the fruit and veggies.
Remove from heat and add a couple handfuls chopped pecans, dried cranberries, handfuls of chopped parsley or thyme. Vary the dressing with sausage removed from the casing and cooked, smoked oysters, sautéed liver or whatever makes you happy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Loosely fill birds with stuffing, trussing the legs together to hold everything in. Tuck herbs beneath the skin and sprinkle with salt, olive oil and pepper for an elegant look and great flavor.
Cook any leftover dressing by adding a little chicken stock and baking alongside birds. Crisp the top by finishing for a minute under the broiler just before serving.
Hens will take about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on size. When the tops of the birds are golden brown and the juices run clear, they are finished. Rest the birds, covered in foil for about 5-10 minutes before serving. this way, they will cool slightly and the juices will redistribute through the meat. Some of the juices will run out of the bird as well, which gives you a great gravy base. Lovely!