Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Turkey Day for Two

Holiday Food.

As a transplanted Midwesterner in NYC, I know all too well how difficult it can be to make it back home for every holiday. You might not have enough vacation days at work or the extra cash to pay for your travels. So you pick one of the "major" holidays - Thanksgiving, Hanakah or Christmas - to be with your folks...and you are on your own for the other.

I think a lot of us choose Thanksgiving to be our DIY holiday. But I don't think that means that you should miss out on having a really good home-cooked meal. Sure a 20lb Butterball might be a bit of overkill for you and your honey, but I have the perfect solution - Cornish Hens. They may sound fancy, but don't be intimidated. Cornish Hens are the perfect size for one person (think of it as your own mini-sized turkey) and are super easy and fast to cook.

Here's a recipe that I love from my favorite cook, Ina Garten. This recipe is designed for 4-6 servings, but you can definitely cut down the recipe for fewer people (I have). Besides loving the Cornish Hen, you'll devour the cornbread stuffing. --a

Cornish Hens with Cornbread Stuffing (serves 4 to 6)

For the stuffing:
1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1 1/2 cups medium-diced celery (3 stalks)
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
5 cups (13 ounces) coarsely crumbled cornbread
1/2 cup chicken stock

For the hens
6 fresh Cornish hens (1 1/4 - to 1 1/2 - pounds)
2 cups sliced yellow onions (2 onions)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

For the stuffing, melt the butter in a medium sauté pan, add the onion, and cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes, until translucent. Off the heat, add the celery, parsley, cornbread, and chicken stock and mix well. Set aside.

For the hens, rinse them inside and out, removing any pinfeathers and pat the outsides dry. In a roasting pan that's just large enough to hold the hens loosely, first toss in the onions and then place the hens on top, breast side up. Sprinkle the insides of the hens with salt and pepper and loosely fill the cavities with the stuffing. (If there is stuffing left over, bake it in a separate pan until heated through.) Tie the legs of each hen together and tuck the wings under the bodies. Brush with melted butter, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and roast for 50 to 60 minutes, until the skin is browned and the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh.

Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes (very important!). Serve a whole hen per person.

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