Stuffed Cornish Game Hens with Pine Nuts and Raisins
- 1/2 cup raisins
- 1/4 cup apple brandy or cognac
- 1 loaf stale sliced white bread
- 6 small Cornish game hens
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup finely diced celery
- 1/2 cup finely diced onion
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley leaves
- 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
- Approximately 1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned chicken broth
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine the raisins and brandy in a small bowl. Set aside for about 15 minutes to allow the raisins to plump slightly.
Trim the crusts from the bread and cut the slices into 1/2-inch cubes. Place the bread cubes on a baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and transfer the cubes to a mixing bowl. Set aside. Do not turn off the oven.
Fill a large mixing bowl with lightly salted cold water and, 1 at a time, thoroughly rinse each hen in the salted water. Place the rinsed hens under cold running water to remove excess salt. Drain well and pat dry. Set aside.
Drain the liquid from the raisins, separately reserving both the raisins and the liquid.
Combine the oil with 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the celery, onion and 1 tablespoon of the garlic and saute for 3 minutes. Add the reserved soaking liquid from the raisins and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. Stir in the parsley, pine nuts, and reserved raisins. Scrape the mixture into the reserved toasted bread cubes and add just enough chicken stock or broth to moisten without letting the bread cubes get soggy. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Using a large spoon, lightly push some stuffing into the cavity of each bird. (Do not pack the stuffing in tightly or it will get very soggy and may not cook properly).
Combine the remaining butter and garlic and coat each hen with a light layer of the seasoned butter. Sprinkle lightly with paprika and season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the hens in a roasting pan. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the preheated oven. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to roast for an additional 20 minutes or until the hens are golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the bird and into the stuffing reads 165 degrees. Remove from the oven and serve.