Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cranberry Stuffed Game Hens - Honey, I Shrunk the Turkey

You may be wondering why I’m posting a Thanksgiving-themed video in the middle of summer. It’s a great question – I even annoyed myself with this way-too-early reminder of things to come – but I do have a great explanation.

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.


Anonymous said...

Looks really good Chef! I love them little chickens. I'd eat them in August. Matter of fact...I'm gonna cook some this weekend for Sunday dinner. I bet apples would work if I can;t find the cranberries. Thanks Chef!

Ed the house chef said...

Anyone else having problems with this video? I watch every one but cant get this one to open. I am receiving an "invalid parameter" error.

Chef John said...

Just checked and everything seems to be okay!

Ed the house chef said...

As soon as i wrote saying i couldnt open the vid... It opened.

Unknown said...

Sorry to be off topic here but, I don't use fresh Italian parsley often because supermarkets around here sell it in large bunches and it's too much for me to use in a timely manner. Can I freeze it and use it later? Just made your Summer Squash & Sausage Stew – Supply and Demand. It was Delish!! but, no parsley.
No Parsley In TN.

Chef John said...

I'm not a fan of frozen parsley, but you can. Why not buy a parsley plant from a nursery (I know they have those in TN) and you'll have it anytime you want. It growes like a weed. Buy one each spring and you're good for the year!

Estoy_Listo said...

I'd be cooking six at a time. I'm guessing I should up the temp by 25 degrees and expect cooking time to increase. Sound right?

Chef John said...

400 is fine, but yes, more time for sure.

Gandalf said...

When the weather cools down, I will make this dish.

Unknown said...

Dear C.J,

Do you think this stuffing+pine nuts would work with a pork loin, or would it be too sweet because of the cranberries?

Love your videos!

Chef John said...

Don't see why not. Sorry, I can't really answer these questions, because I don't know what you'd consider too sweet. Only one way to find out. ;)

Unknown said...

Thanks, I'll give it a try on Christmas!

Unknown said...

Thanks John! My dinners are becoming legendary! Everything is fantastic!

David said...

Thank-you once again Chef John. I am hosting Christmas dinner for 13 people and would like to do this recipe, with side dishes.
Please tell me what your sides were in this dish.
Thank's Dave.

miz masters said...

Thank you for this receipe, I loved the video it was easy to follow and made me laugh. It was like having a friend give me instructions! I cooked 4 micro-turkeys last night with your stuffing and side sauce! Mmmmmm mmmm fantastic!!! I'll be back for more cooking ideas and instructions. Again thank you for the great instructions!!

Light29ID said...

I love this recipe but I want to make for my kids, their spouses and my grandkids. Can you put a portion calculator on the site to make it easier to determine how much to make for multipliable people? Like 7 adults and 4 grandkids. Thanks John

ohscarxd said...

Hi Chef John! I will be making this in the next day or two and am wondering if it is okay to put 4 hens in one pan or 2 pans in the oven. Would I needa rotate the pan to prevent burning?