Most new young brides have a recipe that is their “go to meal” to make when company comes for dinner. They find something that works, and then make it over and over until neither the husband nor the new bride can possibly eat it again. This recipe for stuffed Cornish hens was that recipe for me in 1973 until probably 1977. Yes, for 5 years if you came to my house for dinner, this is what you would have been served. This was my “fancy meal.” I thought it was somewhat chic at the time. And for me, if it wasn’t Italian food, then it must have been somewhat elegant. Elegant or not, when I made this meal the fancy china, silver and crystal came out of hiding, as it was time to play “hostess.” I would spend all day Saturday preparing. When I pulled this recipe card out of my files the other day, I had a good laugh remembering one of the first times that I made this dish. I had spent all day preparing, as I said, and then put the hens in the oven when our company arrived, figuring that the timing would be perfect for us to have cocktails first. Just as we were to sit down to dinner, I realized that I had not turned on the oven, so we had to wait another hour or more for dinner!! I learned from this experience that alcohol and entertaining do not go hand in hand. At least not until I had mastered the art of entertaining. Now I am proud to say, I can do both at the same time. Thank goodness!!
I probably had not made this cornish hen recipe in over 30 years (frankly, I was sick of it), so I was eager to see how I would feel about it now. Well, it certainly didn’t take all day to make. Actually, it’s quite an easy dish. It really only took about 30 minutes or so to get the hens stuffed and in the oven. What the heck was I doing in the 1970s? I did’t have a Cuisinart, but still there isn’t that much chopping to do. Well, with years of cooking under my belt, I guess everything is just easier. It tasted just as delicious now as it did then, even though I did make a few minor adjustments, something I never would have done in 1973.
1 cup long grain rice (I used brown rice and would love brown and wild rice as an option)
4 ounces butter, plus melted butter for basting
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cups chopped onions or shallots
1/4 pound chopped mushrooms (I love shitake in this recipe)
salt and pepper to taste
4 Cornish hens, about a pound or so each
1. Prepare rice as label directs, but cook a bit al dente.
2. In skillet, melt the butter and sauté the mushrooms, celery, onions and green pepper for approximately 10 minutes.
3. Combine cooked rice and veggies in skillet. Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
5. Wash hens and pat dry. Spoon rice mixture into hens and tie up legs with cooking twine. Place in pan, breast side up.
6. Place leftover rice mixture into a small, greased casserole dish.
7. Brush hens with melted butter. Salt and pepper them.
8. Cook hens, basting occasionally, for about an hour, until cooked through.
9. During the last 30 minutes, bake the remaining rice until hot.