Sometimes, Thanksgiving takes a different turn. Perhaps you need to cook for fewer guests, or you don’t have enough refrigerator room for a giant bird. Or maybe you’re simply one of the few Americans who doesn’t especially care for turkey. It’s nice to have a few alternative-to-turkey tricks in the recipe box.
Enter today’s recipe for Bacon-Wrapped Cornish Hens with Corn Couscous. The combination of smoky and sweet, crunchy and soft makes this easy-to-prepare dish a gourmet treat fit for any celebration. This recipe originated with Beverly’s sister-in-law, Liza Gyllenhaal, who serves it often to raves from extended family and friends. (For more of Liza’s terrific recipe recommendations, check out her blog, “Local Food and Local Knowledge,” on our Web site at www.kitchenscoop.com.)
Did we mention this dish is flexible? One hen serves two people, but you can simply double, triple or quadruple the recipe to get the required portions.
For that traditional touch with the meal, you could serve Beverly’s favorite cranberry sauce with port, rosemary and figs. Find it on today’s blog at www.kitchenscoop.com. You (and your guests) will gobble it up!
Bacon-Wrapped Cornish Hens with Corn Couscous
Serves 2. Start to finish: 30 minutes preparation; 1 hour unattended roasting time
1 Cornish game hen, defrosted if frozen
1 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence (see Cook’s note)
2 slices uncooked bacon
2/3 cup plain couscous (see Cook’s note)
1 teaspoon olive oil
10 peeled baby carrots (for cup thin slices)
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup frozen sweet, white corn kernels
Plain couscous comes in a box, bag or bulk. You need about cup dry for each serving, so cook the needed amount for your party. Keep leftovers in a sealed container in a cool, dry place for future use.
Recipe can be easily doubled, tripled or quadrupled. Adjust size of baking pan according to number of hens – 4 will roast nicely in a 9-by-13-inch pan. For even roasting, make sure hens have enough room without touching sides of pan or each other.
The larger pot is needed to accommodate the vegetables added after the couscous steams.
Warm couscous briefly over low heat or in the microwave just before hens are served, if necessary.
Cook’s note: Use equal parts of dried rosemary, marjoram, thyme and sage if you can’t find the Herbes de Provence.
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Spray a roasting pan (see Cook’s note) with cooking-oil spray or line with nonstick foil. Wash game hen and dry inside and out with paper towels. Place herb mix in hen cavity and shake to coat evenly. Holding legs together, tie 1 slice of bacon around leg portion of hen to hold them together. Tuck wings under.
Place hen breast down in pan. Roast 1 hour or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thigh registers 165 to 180 degrees F, depending on personal preference.
While the hen roasts, prepare couscous according to package directions in a 2-quart (see Cook’s note) or larger pot with lid. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over medium heat in an 11-inch skillet. Add the carrots, onion and pepper to skillet. Cook until onions are tender, about 3 minutes. If necessary, rinse corn in a colander to remove any ice crystals, shaking to remove as much water as possible. Add corn to skillet, and stir and toss to thaw corn and heat through, about 2 more minutes. Set aside.
When couscous is done, fluff with a fork and stir in all vegetables. Cook remaining bacon slice in microwave until crisp, about 45 seconds. Crumble and add to couscous. Cover pilaf and set pan aside.* (See Cook’s note)
When hens are done, remove from oven. Using kitchen shears, cut down spine of hen and separate into 2 halves. To serve, spread half of each plate with a generous portion of pilaf. Arrange 1 hen half to partially overlap couscous, and serve.
Approximate nutritional value per serving: 751 calories (44 percent from fat), 37 grams fat (10 grams saturated), 187 miligrams cholesterol, 41 grams protein, 62 grams carbohydrates, grams g dietary fiber, 318 miligrams sodium
Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross are mothers whose cookbook is called “Desperation Dinners!” Send tales of woe or success and your favorite quick recipes to Desperation Dinners, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10016 or firstname.lastname@example.org.