Roasted Cornish Hens with Chestnut Stuffing and Port Reduction

Cornish hens are the perfect solution for a festive main dish when you are short on time - they roast in under an hour! Stuffed with pancetta, shallots, figs, chestnuts and flavoured with port, this impressive but easy recipe for roasted Cornish hens is absolutely delicious. To make the chestnut stuffing easy-to-prepare, look for vacuum-packed, ready-cooked chestnuts at your supermarket, they are available all year round.


Roasted Cornish Hens with Chestnut Stuffing
4 dried figs, chopped
About 1/4 cup port
4 tbsp. butter
4 tbsp. olive oil
1 to 2 slices pancetta, finely chopped
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
2 tsp. finely chopped sage
2 tsp. finely chopped rosemary
2 tsp. finely chopped thyme
8 cooked chestnuts, chopped
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 cup bread cubes (day old)
2 tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 Cornish game hens (each about 1 1/4 pound)
Butcher’s twine or kitchen string, for tying birds
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Port Reduction
1/4 cup port
1 cup chicken stock
1 sprig thyme
1 sprig sage
1 sprig rosemary
2 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. honey (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


Roasted Cornish Hens with Chestnut Stuffing
Add chopped figs to small dish. Cover with port, about 1/4 cup. Let figs soak until start to soften and plump, about 10 minutes.

Add 2 tbsp. butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add pancetta and let cook until lightly golden. Add shallot, celery, thyme, sage and rosemary. Sauté until vegetables start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add chestnuts and continue to sauté, about 2 minutes more. Add soaked figs, the soaking liquid. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Let simmer until very little liquid remains in the pan.

Transfer mixture to large bowl. Add bread cubes and parsley. Toss to combine. Add 1/4 cup chicken stock. Gently toss to combine. Continue to add more stock until bread is evenly moistened. Season the stuffing with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Pat hens dry.

Fill the hens with the stuffing. To truss the hens, simply tie the legs together with butchers’ twine or kitchen string. Rub the outside of the hens with the remaining 2 tbsp. butter, the 2 tbsp. remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the hens on roasting rack inside a large roasting pan. Roast hens in preheated oven, until the juices run clear and meat is no longer pink, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Tent hens with foil and let rest for 7 to 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Port Reduction.

Port Reduction
Add port, chicken stock and herbs to pan drippings in roasting pan. Cook over medium heat on stove top. Add honey, if desired. Reduce sauce until syrupy. Finish with butter to thicken and season with salt and pepper. Strain sauce through fine sieve before serving, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings.