Stuffed Honey-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens

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I began preparing Thanksgiving dinners for my family when I got my first apartment at the age of 19. At that time, it was usually a small group about 5 of us, that enjoyed our feast together. Over the years, our group changed. We added new family members, lost some, invited friends, etc. but one thing never changed — I’ve always prepared Thanksgiving dinner for my entire family. There’s something really special about providing others you care for with a delicious meal. For me, food is my love language. It’s how I show other people that our relationship is meaningful, and because of that, I want to share a piece of myself with them. Last night, we did a practice-run of a delicious Thanksgiving meal. While most people prepare 10+ pound stuffed turkeys, some families prefer a smaller, more intimate meal. This is my recipe for Stuffed Honey-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens. This recipe is for two hens, which serves four. Best part about preparing Cornish hens for a holiday meal? They cook in a fraction of the time – great for the beginning home cook!

Ingredients:

2 Cornish hens

Glaze for hens

  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 2 T Kikkoman® Soy Sauce
  • 2 T honey
  • 2 T butter

Stuffing for hens

  • 1 Granny Smith apple
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 T butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 t dried thyme
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Begin by dicing your green apple and onion. Be sure to create small pieces as this is the base for your stuffing. Add the 4 tablespoons of butter to a saute pan along with the diced apple and onion. Saute over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until the apple softens and the onions become translucent.

Add the chopped pecans, dried cranberries, cup of chicken broth, dried thyme, and Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs. Normally I use day-old sourdough bread or cornbread for stuffing, but these Kikkoman® Panko Bread Crumbs worked great because they held the stuffing together really well. Combine until you have reached a stuffing texture and set the mixture aside to cool.

Now it’s time to make the glaze! In a small sauce pan, combine the orange juice, Kikkoman® Soy Sauce, honey, and butter. Place this over a low heat and whisk until the butter melts and the glaze is one consistent mixture. This glaze is the perfect mix of sweet and savory.

Time to stuff your birds! I began by removing them from their packaging, rinsing them off, and patting them down. Pro tip: Designate a cutting board just for poultry, meat, and fish. That way, you don’t have to worry about any cross-contamination as you prepare your proteins and other dishes.

Fill each cavity with stuffing. Do not hesitate to really stuff it in there. The more stuffing that cooks inside the bird, the better. I had maybe 1/2 cup leftover afterwards {you know, to heat up and enjoy while your birds are cooking}. Using butcher’s twine, I tied the legs together. I also tucked the wing tips under the birds so they wouldn’t burn. Place them in a roasting dish, and then you can just pour the glaze over the top of each hen. Now they are ready for the oven!

My hens were on the larger side, so they required a full hour of cook time. Baste once in the middle to make sure the glaze adheres to the skin. After about 45 minutes of cooking, I suggest using a knife to make a small cut into the bird between the thigh and the breast. If the liquid runs clear, your hen is ready. If it does not, continue to cook for the full hour. You can also check that the internal temperature is 165 degrees F with a meat thermometer.

While the hens were in the oven, I put together some simple Thanksgiving decor that I was able to find while shopping for my ingredients. I found two mason jars in my closet, filled them halfway with fresh cranberries, added water, and placed a floating candle on top. I purchased one small pumpkin, an acorn squash, and gourd to create a fun seasonal look. Three gold candle holders and pillar candles, and my tablescape was ready to go! Now, back to the hens…

I served this up to look like an intimate dinner for two. I steamed green beans and placed them on an antique-style white dish, over a gold charger. I placed the hen on top of the green beans, and drizzled the whole thing with some of the pan drippings {which is seriously my favorite part – this glaze is so sweet and delicious!}

One adult-sized serving would be half a bird, filled with stuffing, and of course simple steamed green beans on the side.

Click HERE for more Thanksgiving Inspiration!

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What plans do you have for Thanksgiving this year?

About Carrie Wells, Ed.D.

Dr. Carrie Wells is a college instructor, blogger, wife, and work-at-home mother to two children, Lydia {age 8} and Bryce {age 6}. Carrie earned her doctorate in Special Education in 2008. After becoming a mother in 2009, Carrie began blogging as Huppie Mama to share her passions for cooking, crafting, beautifying, and her family. In 2016, she rebranded as Our Potluck Family, and her husband Richard became a regular contributor.

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