It’s that time of year again─ The one where I’m constantly searching for that wonderful comfort food that sustains me and doesn’t make my waistband expand. This recipe will take a day for prep work, but worth the wait!
What you’ll need in advance:
- Poultry ties (or very thin gauge wire can work in a pinch)
- Bread pan (or I like to get these because they are very versatile)
- Large pot used for brining. You could also use the large gallon storage bags that seal shut as well, but I prefer the pot because you are going to have to simmer the brine first and it’s just easier to do it this way.
- 9×12 inch baking dish (or the other I mentioned that you can link together to make a pan)
- Roasting pan (I highly recommend getting one of these for many reasons on the keto diet, it makes your life so much easier)
HENS and BRINE:
- Cornish hens (they usually come in a pack of two and so I have made this recipe for two since I made it with me and my bf in mind)
- 2 cups water
- 6 tablespoons kosher salt
- 4 cloves garlic, whole but peeled
- 4 sprigs thyme (you could also use rosemary or sage or combine them)
- 2 small bay leaves
- 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns, roughly cracked
- 1 lemon and lime, halved.
- 18 ice cubes (15 oz.)
- 1/2 cup coconut flour
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- 6 eggs (or 3 eggs and 1/3 cup coconut milk if you are running low on eggs)
- 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
- 1 pound ground sausage
- 2 cups celery, chopped (this is optional for people that like celery. I’m not a fan so I left it out)
- 1/2 cup onion, chopped
- 5 cups crumbled “cornbread” (from above bread recipe)
- 1 1/4 cups chicken broth (add more if you prefer a mushy stuffing. I like mine more firm.)
- 1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning ( or make your own: 2 teaspoons ground sage, 1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground thyme, 1 teaspoon ground marjoram, 3⁄4 teaspoon ground rosemary, 1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg, 1⁄2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper)
- 1 tsp sage
Let’s get started on this wonderful recipe. You will need to prepare the brine the day before you plan on cooking. Make sure that you have given the birds an hour per pound to thaw as well. So before making your brine, make sure that you have properly thawed your birds as well.
- In a large pot, combine water, salt, onion, garlic, thyme, bay, peppercorns, and lemon and lime. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring until the salt has dissolved. Take mixture off of the heat, cover and let steep for 10 minutes.
- Add ice to the mixture and stir until the ice has completely melted.
- Here is where you can use a large freezer bag (if you cooked the brine in a medium pot instead) Place the hens into a large freezer bag, or into the pot. For the best taste, I recommend letting this sit for 24 hours, however, if you want to make it the same day, let it sit for at least 3 hours at room temperature. Place the mixture in the refrigerator if you choose to leave it over-night.
- The next day rinse the hens in cold, running water, pat dry and then set aside. Discard brine. Let the hens rest for 1 hour before cooking or transfer to the refrigerator to use later. (see what to do with cornish hens after cornbread and stuffing instructions.)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a medium-sized bowl sift together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until very smooth.
- Grease a small bread pan and fill about 2/3 of the way full with batter.
- Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. This can be made ahead and frozen.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Place sausage, celery, and onions in a large, deep skillet.
- Cook over medium-high heat until evenly brown.
- Drain, crumble and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine sausage mixture with cornbread, chicken broth, poultry seasoning, and sage.
- Mix well and transfer to a 9×12 inch baking dish.
- Bake, covered, for 45 minutes or until well set and cooked through. Makes 12 servings.
Nutritional info (per serving):
Traditional Cornbread Stuffing = 441 calories, 20g fat, 15g protein, 52 carbs, 4.3g fiber
“Healthy” Stuffing = 278 calories, 22g fat, 12.4g protein, 4.4 carbs, 2.2g fiber
Cornish Hens After Brine:
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Under the hen’s skin and inside the cavity, use the other half of your lemon and lime. Make sure that you slice them thinly before placing them inside.
- Chop up your fresh thyme and rosemary (I usually use about a tablespoon of them combined or slightly under) and sprinkle under the skin and a little on top. (you can also add a sprig of rosemary inside the hens if you love it.)
- Take 3/4 stick of butter and place inside each bird and use the last quarter of each to place under each skin. I usually slice it thinly to place underneath.
- Tie together the legs and arm flaps like so:
- And then place them on your roasting pan and roast in preheated oven for 25 minutes.
- Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Continue roasting about 25 minutes longer, or until hens are golden brown and juices run clear. Baste with pan juices every 10 minutes.
- Place (or tent) aluminum foil around the hens to keep warm as you prep the plates.
Nutritional breakdown (per serving):
There are 793 calories in 1 hen of Roasted Cornish Game Hen (Skin Eaten). Calorie breakdown: 65% fat, 0% carbs, 35% protein.