Blasted Cornish Hens with Basil Couscous Stuffing

4 servings
  • For the stuffing:
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup canned chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup couscous
  • 1/3 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted lightly
  • 2 1 1/2 -pound Cornish hens, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened

Make the stuffing: In a small saucepan cook the garlic in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring, until it is softened. Add the broth, and bring it to a boil. Stir in the couscous, remove the pan from the heat, and let the mixture stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Transfer the couscous to a bowl, stir in the basil, the pine nuts, and salt and pepper to taste, and let the stuffing cool.

Season the cavities of the hens with salt and pepper and fill them with the stuffing. Cover each opening with a piece of foil, truss the hens with kitchen string, and rub each hen with 1 tablespoon of the butter. In a flameproof roasting pan heat the remaining 2 tablespooons butter over moderately high heat until the foam subsides and in it saute the hens breast side up for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown. Roast the hens in a preheated 450 degree F oven, basting them with the pan juices every 10 minutes, for 30 minutes, or until the juices run clear when the fleshy part of a thigh is pricked with a skewer. Transfer the hens to a cutting board, let them stand for 10 minutes, and discard the string and foil. Halve the hens with a sharp knife and arrange them on a heated platter.

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