This year, I decided that I would not make a turkey. Flat out – no turkey. It was just going to be the two of us and I actually am one of the few people on this planet who has no affinity for leftover turkey sandwiches. So I went a different route… Cornish Game Hens and a whole mess of sides!

So settle in for Thanksgiving 2010… Cornbread -Stuffed Cornish Game Hens, Corn Maque Choux, Garlicky Broccoli Rabe, Butternut Squash Mash and Cranberry Sauce.

First I made the cornbread stuffing – cheated a little and bought cornbread mix to make some muffins!

Then chopped them up into 1/2 inch cubes until I ended up with about 2 cups worth.

Chopped up celery and onions…

Chopped up sage.

Then I melted butter in a large skillet and sauteed the onion and celery until they just began to color, about 5 minutes or so.

Added in some Granny Smith apples and sauteed for another 2 or 3 minutes. Then it was time to mix in the sage and season with salt and pepper.

Transferred the whole shebang to a big bowl and let it cool for about 10 minutes. Then I mixed the cornbread chunks into the vegetables, adding a lightly beaten egg to help everything blend. Threw in a half cup of grated extra sharp cheddar and about 4 TBSP of apple cider  (1 TBSP at a time) so that the stuffing was lookin’ fine! Spooned it all into a baking pan and set aside.

Then I got to work on my two little birds – Rinsed, dried & rubbed with butta.

Sprinkled salt& pepper into the cavities and stuffed each bird with about 1/2 cup or so worth of the stuffing. Tucked the wings under and skewered the legs together with halved kebab skewers (mama had to get inventive as I must have imagined the giant ball of cooking twine that I thought I had in my pantry). Finally, I rubbed each bird with more sage, salt and pepper (and probably a few other super secret spices).

Preheated the oven to 400F. While that was heating up, I browned the birds in olive oil, using wooden spoons to flip and turn them until they were as evenly browned and they were gonna get (about 10 minutes or so). Placed them both on a rack inside a roasting pan, breast-side up…

Draped a halved slice of thick-cut bacon over each hen. Drool…

And into the oven it all went – the birds on their roasting pan, the rest of the stuffing in its own baking pan. Roasted the birds and stuffing for about 45 minutes-1 hour, until the juices ran clear.

While the birds and the stuffing for roasting, Spencer made the Butternut mash (a secret recipe of his that is totally to die) and sauteed broccoli rabe with lots of garlic and a bit of crushed red pepper. And I set to work on the corn maque choux, which is essentially succotash. 🙂

Sauteed a small chopped onion in melted butter until it was translucent (about 5 minutes). Added chopped red bell pepper and sauteed for a few minutes…

Added in some corn, sauteed for a few.

Added in cream, rosemary (because I’d run out of thyme and they’re pretty much interchangeable in my book), and a bit of hot sauce. Simmered until the sauce thickened. The recipe said it’d take about 5 minutes, but I found it was closer to ten.

Mixed in chopped green onion, parsley and basil and seasoned with salt, pepper and a little more hot sauce, because that’s how we do. Simmered for just a few minutes and then it was done!

Whipped up some quick cranberry sauce…

Pulled the birds out of the oven…

And it was time to eat!

Recipes adapted from Bon Appetit

Cornbread Stuffing:

  • 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

Game hens: (I halved this…)

  • 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:

  • 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