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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