Cornbread-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Corn Maque Choux

Cornbread-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Corn Maque Choux

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Cornbread stuffing is the unique, sweet twist on this cornish game hen recipe that could be either a showstopping entrée or unforgettable side dish.



  • 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
  • 4 bacon slices, each halved crosswise

Recipe Preparation


  • 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.

Reviews SectionI made it!Super easy and good.I would post a picture...looks almost like yours!TrollhairTennessee04/01/18

Recipe Summary

  • 8 ounces rye bread (about 1/2 loaf), trimmed of crust and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 small leek, white and pale-green parts only, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced into half-moons, and rinsed well
  • 3 ounces shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus leaves (optional), for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3/4 cup reduced-fat, low-sodium canned chicken broth
  • 6 Cornish game hens (1 1/2 pounds each)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup port

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread out diced bread on a rimmed baking sheet toastin oven, turning occasionally, until light brown and dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside.

Raise oven temperature to 450 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add leek, mushrooms, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl stir in bread, chopped sage, parsley, mustard, thyme, 1/2 cup dried cranberries, and 1/2 cup broth.

Spoon stuffing into bird cavities tie legs together with kitchen twine. Rub birds with butter, then sprinkle with pepper and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Arrange birds on a roasting rack in a large roasting pan. Roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees, and continue roasting until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thighs (avoiding bone) registers 170 degrees, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer rack with birds to a rimmed baking sheet, and let rest.

Set roasting pan on top of stove across two burners set heat to medium-high. Add port and remaining 1/4 cup broth deglaze pan, scraping up any browned bits from bottom with a wooden spoon. Add remaining 1/4 cup dried cranberries cook, stirring, until sauce reduces slightly, 2 to 3 minutes.

Place birds on a serving platter, and drizzle sauce over them. Garnish with sage leaves, if desired, and serve.

Preparing Stuffing

Almost any stuffing flavor combinations you desire will complement the mild flavor of Cornish game hens. Boxed stuffing is an option, but homemade versions allow for more imaginative creations. Start by sautéing diced onions and celery in a little butter until softened, then blend with cubed bread or breadcrumbs, fresh or dried herbs, and a little chicken stock. Cornbread or day-old bread are ideal, but can also be replaced with cooked grains, such as brown rice, wild rice or bulgar wheat. Enhance the stuffing with additional vegetables, perhaps diced carrots, sweet corn or fennel, or a medley of wild mushrooms sauteed with garlic. Fruity additions to consider include diced apples, dried cranberries, apricots or cherries, and lemon zest and juice. Some recipes call for bacon or sausage. Pork sausage with sage and onion are classic stuffing ingredients, but you can experiment with, for example, chorizo, orange zest and parsley, or andouille with red peppers.


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1 teaspoon vanilla extract.

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