279: Game Hens with Cranberry-Mustard Stuffing

Yesterday we felt so revoltingly full that this morning, Tito and I decided to fast for a bit. It only lasted so long; I gave up when I got to the the Greek yogurt samples at Whole Foods (around 11 a.m.), and by two p.m., we felt almost human again. We each ate half a cheese sandwich for lunch.

Stuffed game hens sounded good by the time dinner rolled around. But when they came out of the oven, hot and crisp and emanating essence of poultry, I had no appetite. I went in for the photograph, trying to give you a glimpse of the chopped dried cranberries and wheat berries in the stuffing, and was struck by the feeling that I was taking inappropriate photographs of an innocent naked sunbather. The hens were good, but I ate very little.

Game Hens with Cranberry-Mustard Stuffing 2

Roasted Game Hens with Cranberry-Mustard Stuffing (PDF)
Recipe 279 of 365

Game hens are a great way to disguise a lust for crisp chicken skin, because they make it sort of acceptable to eat all the skin off one bird, which I tend to do no matter how big she is.

TIME: 50 minutes active time, plus stirring
MAKES: 4 servings

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 cup dry white wine
4 cups chicken stock or broth
3/4 cup wheat berries
1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 (1-pound) game hens, rinsed, trimmed, and dried inside and out
Olive oil spray

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then the onion, and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme and wine, and simmer 2 minutes. Add 2 cups of the chicken stock and the wheat berries, and simmer on medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining 2 cups stock, and simmer another 30 minutes. Stir in the cranberries, and cook another few minutes, until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Remove the stuffing from the heat, stir in the mustard, breadcrumbs, and cheese, season to taste, and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Divide the stuffing between the cavities of the four hens. Using twine, tie the legs together, and tuck the wings behind the backs. Place the birds breast-up in a large roasting pan, spray lightly with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, or until the stuffing measures 165 degrees with an instant-read thermometer. Serve warm, with a gravy made from the pan juices, if desired.

Game Hens with Cranberry-Mustard Stuffing

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