Sage Marinated Cornish Game Hens With Sausage, Rice and Mushroom Stuffing

I made this for Lisa not too long ago, but forgot to take pictures. I hope you guys still enjoy messing around with this recipe, though.

 

Sage Marinated Cornish Game Hens with Sausage, Mushroom and Rice Stuffing

Ingredients

Birds

2 Cornish game hens, normal size
1/2 bottle Italian medium-dry white wine (Pinot Grigio works well)
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup olive oil
Large amounts of sage, rosemary, basil and oregano (I use dried, but I’d imagine that fresh is way better)
Mixed colour peppercorns
Sea Salt (optional)

Stuffing

1 cups rice
1/2 bottle Italian medium-dry white wine (Pinot Grigio works well)
1 cup lemon juice
Large amounts of sage, rosemary, basil and oregano (I use dried, but I’d imagine that fresh is way better)
Mixed colour peppercorns
1/2 package sage country style sausage
1 pound sliced mushrooms
1 finely diced onion
3 tbs minced garlic (Feel free to use fresh instead – I’m just lazy)
Large amounts of sage, rosemary, basil and oregano (I use dried, but I’d imagine that fresh is way better)
2 Bay leaves
2 tbs butter

Preparing the birds

In a large bowl, mix olive oil, lemon juice and white wine together. Be sure to mix well, as they will tend to separate. Now, I use a hell of a lot of sage here, easily three or four tbs., but I’m using the dried stuff. If you’re using fresh, I don’t know how that translates. Part of the reason that you want to use so much sage is that it has a very subtle flavour, and you really want it to get into the skin of the hen. The olive oil makes the skin wonderfully rich and crunchy, and adding sage to that works out really well. The other herbs are there just as helpers. So, if you consider the rest to be generic Italian herbs, the ratio of sage to Italian herbs should be 3:1 or 4:1.   Grind in the mixed colour peppercorns to taste. You can also use some sea salt here, if you’d like, but I don’t cook with much salt for health reasons.

You now have your marinade. The longer you can leave your hens in here, the better. I’ve done up to twenty four hours before. Unfortunately, you can’t really score the meat, as it ruins the appearance of the hens when you serve them, so you have to rely on good old fashioned osmosis to get the job done.  If you’re in a rush, though, I’ve done it with as few as two hours, and I’d imagine that you could really get away with it one.

Anyway,  put these in the fridge for now.

Preparing the Stuffing

You’re going to have more stuffing than can fit inside the hens. This is fine. You can cook it outside the hens, as well, in the same baking tray and have dressing.

Set your rice to cooking in wine and lemon juice. Do this on low heat. Add in sage and Italian herbs as before, 3:1 or 4:1, but in smaller amounts. No more than 2 tbs sage – that’s a good guideline. When the wine and lemon juice start to bubble, add in the butter.  Cook till the rice is firm – you should still have some wine and lemon juice in there. This is fine.

While this is cooking, open up your package of country style sausage. This should be loose sausage without casing. If you have a casing, cut it out and cook the sausage loosely on medium heat. You want it to start browning and releasing its oils, but not to get completely cooked. Once it starts browning, add in the onion and keep cooking. Once the onions soften, add in the garlic. Now, you want to keep an eye on this and use your judgement a bit. At the end of all of this, you want the sausage to be about 85% done. Look at what you’re cooking and decide when you can throw in the mushrooms to get them well cooked and softened without going over that 85% cooked sausage point. Once you’ve reached that point, throw in the mushrooms, ground peppercorns and herbs.

Now, get another large bowl. Mix the rice, wine and lemon juice and sausage concoction together.

Cooking it all together

Take your hens out of the fridge. Stuff the hens as tightly as you can with them. You should probably be able to get one cup inside each hen, easily. Tie the hens legs together to enclose. Arrange the hens on a baking tray, and take the rest of your somewhat liquid stuffing and arrange all around them. Do not worry about the fact that your stuffing is somewhat liquid. This moisture is critical – it keeps the whole thing from drying out while you cook it and it provides a lot of moisture to the hens in the tray.

Stick the tray in the oven at 400 degrees for forty-five minutes to an hour.  You can tell they’re done when you poke with a fork and the juices run clear.

 

Saal Mubarak!

I love President Obama so much for this. Very few people could discuss Diwali as a means of commonality between Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, much less, cite Sanskrit verse to do so without being cheesy, but God, this man just pulled it off. The fact that he is our President makes me feel like this will be a great year of recovery. -dx