Lemon Herbed Cornish Hens with Jalepeno, Sausage and Currant Dressing

chicken, dinner | January 18, 2016 | By

 

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“Taylor Swift is the best singer of all time!” exclaimed Chef Jess when Wildest Dreams came on during our car ride home from school.  I’ll be honest, my neck is still sore from how quickly I turned to look at her to see if maybe she was running a fever.  After realizing that she was ABSOLUTELY SERIOUS, I tried desperately to help her reason.  “But, seriously…. you can’t tell me that Taylor Swift is a better singer than Whitney Houston???” I immediately responded.  “Well, Whitney’s okay…..but she’s no Ariana Grande!” she shot back.  SIGH!!!!!!!!!!  Operation Music Deprogramming was suddenly catapulted into action! lol    So while we “cheffed,” MY playlist played in the background. 😉

It’s been really, really, REALLY cold here in Atlanta, so my young chefs and I have been craving some heartwarming foods.  The other night my minions and I worked together to make a meal so delicious that we just sat back and smiled at each other across the table.  No really…it was stupidly delicious!  Chef Jess (our resident meat expert) wanted to create a mock Thanksgiving meal…. sans turkey.  Instead, she chose Cornish hens.  Of course no Thanksgiving  meal is complete without dressing (or stuffing as many of y’all call it;)  So, Chef Fresh and I came up with a savory dressing with a slight kick.  After all, we are Caribbean. 🙂  As the young chefs divided the task list and prepped their items, Mommy (aka The Sous) loaded Spotify, and soon the sweet voices of Aretha, Whitney, Etta, and Marvin Gaye filled the room.

As I danced around, Chef Jess prepped the hens and Chef Fresh chopped up ciabatta bread into cubes.  He drizzled the cubes with olive oil, and a pinch of salt/pepper, then browned them in the oven.

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Next, the sausage also needed to be browned.

 cooked sausage

The flavors came together so seamlessly after combining all the dressing ingredients together on the stovetop!  The rosemary, sage, and garlic aroma quickly filled the house!

uncooked stuffing2

Meanwhile, Chef Jess was busy cleaning and seasoning the Cornish hens!  “This isn’t bad!” she mumbled as “Ain’t No Way” rang through the speakers.  “Who is this?” she asked.  “Aretha, baby girl.  This is called singing!”  I replied with a smirk. 🙂

seasoned hens

 

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She also added rosemary to pair well with the dressing, and frequently basted as they cooked.  Before broiling to get a nice crispy skin, she transferred the hens to a separate baking sheet, and drained all the juices into a pot.

cooked sausage

cooking hens

She then let the sauce simmer on the stove just to thicken a bit.

hen sauce

And just like that!  A meal was made!  It was epic!  The chicken fell off the bone, and the mixture of sweet, savory, and heat in the dressing rounded it all out.  Don’t forget to drizzle the reduced sauce over the chicken! Now because I’m mom…I snuck some green (broccoli) on the plate.  🙂

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Tonight’s cooking lesson… (1) Savory foods are welcomed on really cold days; (2) Though Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift are talented, there are soooo many who paved the way; and  (3) If you listen to classic songs, you will see that modern music borrowed a lot from the musical Kings and Queens of prior days. 

Seasoned Cornish Hens

 

Faith, Family, Food…    In that order

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   Bon appétit,

 

 

Seasoned Cornish Hens with Jalepeno, Sausage and Currant Stuffing
Serves 5
Comforting meal packed with strong flavors. The Cornish hens fall off the bone with flavor, and the dressing has the perfect combination of sweet, savory, and spicy.
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For Dressing
  1. 10 oz. sweet sausage (NO CASINGS)
  2. 1 medium red onion, diced
  3. 2 cups chicken stock
  4. 1⁄3 cup olive oil
  5. 2 tbsp. roughly chopped parsley
  6. 2 tbsp. roughly chopped rosemary
  7. 3 tbsp. roughly chopped sage
  8. 1 (12-oz.) loaf ciabatta bread, cut into 1" pieces
  9. salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  10. 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  11. 1 cup currant
  12. 1/2 cup raisins
  13. 1 jalepeno diced (Removing seeds help to keep dish from getting too spicy. But add some seeds if you enjoy some heat.)
For Hens
  1. 5 Cornish hens (about 1 3/4 pounds each), room temperature, rinsed well, patted dry, and rubbed with lemon
  2. 1 sprig rosemary, roughly chopped
  3. 2 lemons, sliced
  4. 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
  5. Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  6. smoked paprika
  7. 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  8. 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  9. Smoked paprika
DIRECTIONS
Dressing
  1. Heat oven to 375°
  2. Cook sausage, stirring and breaking up meat into medium pieces, until browned, 8–10 minutes. Turn heat off and remove to separate bowl, but keep rendered oil in pan.
  3. Add olive oil, bread, salt, and pepper to bowl; toss to combine
  4. Spread evenly in baking dish. Bake until golden brown and bread is slightly crisp on top. Remove from oven.
  5. While the bread is baking, add chopped garlic to remaining sausage oil in pan and sauté with red onion until translucent.
  6. Then add bread, sausage, stock, sage, rosemary, parsley, currants, raisins, jalapeños, and salt/pepper together, to the sautéed garlic. Mix together then transfer to baking pan. Bake in oven until top is crisp. (30-35 minutes)
Hens
  1. Rinse hens and rub with lemon. This helps to cleanse and brighten up the taste. Pat dry and place on baking tray.
  2. Sprinkle salt, pepper, rosemary, parsley, and garlic under the skin, and add a pat of butter You should also salt and pepper the cavity. Sprinkle the hens with garlic powder and smoked paprika, and top with a slice of lemon. Add any leftover lemon slices to the pan. Cook at 375° for about 45 minutes until almost completely cooked. Make sure to baste throughout this process. Transfer hens to a different baking tray and return to oven to brown. Drain sauce from original tray into pan and reduce. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the hens because they will be browning. Remove from oven when they are to your desired crispness, and let sit for 10 minutes
Serving
  1. You can serve the Cornish hen whole, or split it in half (our preferred method). Either way...scoop a healthy spoonful of dressing on the plate and enjoy! Add your favorite veggie to the dish to round it out. 🙂
Notes
  1. Please remember that spice measurements are approximations. Add more if your palate desires. 🙂
Together Three Chef http://togetherthreechef.com/

 

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