If you're not having a huge group at the Thanksgiving table, this recipe might fit the bill. Game hens in place of turkey have always been my answer when cooking for two or three. (Unless you love those turkey leftovers!) Here you have the individual servings everyone loves and even a little stuffing, made with apples, cider and some cheese. The side dish of corn maque choux is divine...please try it even if you don't serve it with the game hens.
Cornbread-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Corn Maque Choux
By Bruce Aidells for Bon Appétit, October 2008
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 1/2 cups diced peeled cored Granny Smith or Golden Delicious apples
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 cups 1/2-inch cubes purchased cornbread or corn muffins (about 11 ounces)
1 large egg, beaten to blend
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
6 tablespoons (about) fresh apple cider or fresh apple juice
4 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound Cornish game hens, rinsed, patted dry
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 bacon slices, each halved crosswise
Corn Maque Choux recipe below.
Melt butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; sauté until beginning to color, about 5 minutes. Add apples; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Mix in sage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; transfer to large bowl. Let stand until almost cool, about 10 minutes.
Mix cornbread into vegetables. Add egg and toss to blend. Mix in cheese, then enough apple cider by tablespoonfuls to form stuffing that is moist but not wet.
Sprinkle cavity of each hen lightly with salt and pepper. Pack 1 cup stuffing into each (place any leftover stuffing into buttered ramekins and cover with foil). Skewer cavities closed with toothpicks or turkey lacers. Tuck wing tips under; tie legs together to hold shape. Mix sage, coarse salt, and pepper in small bowl; sprinkle over hens.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place 2 hens in skillet. Sauté until brown, turning often with wooden spoons (to prevent tearing skin), about 10 minutes. Transfer to rimmed baking sheet, breast side up. Repeat with remaining hens. Drape 2 bacon strip halves over breast of each hen. Using kitchen string, tie bacon strips in place. (Place any ramekins of stuffing on baking sheet with hens.)
Place hens (and extra stuffing) in oven. Roast hens until cooked through and juices run clear when thigh is pierced, about 45 minutes. (Roast stuffing 30 minutes.) Cut strings off hens. Transfer hens to plates. Spoon maque choux around hens and serve with extra stuffing.
Corn Maque Choux
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from 3 medium ears of corn)
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon (or more) hot pepper sauce
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Coarse kosher salt
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add bell pepper; sauté until beginning to soften, about 3 minutes. Add corn; sauté 2 minutes. Add cream, thyme, and 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce. Simmer until sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Mix in green onion, parsley, and basil. Season to taste with coarse salt, pepper, and more hot pepper sauce, if desired.