Roasted Cornish Hens with Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 9 hr 15 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Inactive: 8 hr
  • Cook: 50 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Cornish Hens: 

2 Cornish hens or poussins (about 1 1/2 pounds each)

1 cup Aaron's Achiote Paste, recipe follows

Chorizo Cornbread Stuffing:

1 pound Aaron's Chorizo, recipe follows (store-bought is fine)

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 medium carrot, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

1 medium white onion, finely chopped

2 cups coarsely crumbled cornbread

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1/2 cup chicken stock (low-sodium store-bought is fine)

Aaron's Achiote Paste:

1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons achiote paste

2 teaspoons dried whole oregano (preferably Mexican) or dried marjoram

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped

Aaron's Chorizo:

1 pound ground beef chuck

1 pound ground pork

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon salt

3 cloves garlic, very finely chopped

2 tablespoons crushed dried oregano (preferably Mexican)

1 teaspoon ground canela (Mexican cinnamon) or 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground star anise

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 cup dry white wine

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup ancho chile powder


  1. For the Cornish hens: The night before you plan to cook, rub the chickens all over with Aaron's Achiote Paste (underneath the skin, on the skin, inside the cavities). Let them marinate, covered, overnight in the refrigerator. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  3. For the stuffing: Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cook Aaron's Chorizo, breaking it up with a spoon and stirring occasionally as it cooks, until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, carrots, celery and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have browned, about 10 minutes. Add the cornbread and cilantro. Gradually stir in enough of the stock so that the stuffing is not too dry but at the same time not too wet. Stir gently and well. 
  4. Divide the stuffing equally and spoon into the cavity of each bird. Arrange the birds with plenty of space between them on a rack on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. Roast the chickens until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees F, about 40 minutes.

Aaron's Achiote Paste:

Yield: 1 1/2 cups
  1. Combine the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, achiote paste, oregano, cumin and garlic in a blender. Puree until the mixture is the consistency of a smooth vinaigrette. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. 

Aaron's Chorizo:

Yield: 2 pounds
  1. Put the ground beef and pork in a large bowl. Add the vinegar, salt and garlic, and mix well (your hands are the best tools for this job). Sprinkle with the oregano, canela, pepper, star anise and cloves, and mix well. Add the wine and sugar and mix well. 
  2. Bring 1 cup water to a boil in a small saucepan. Put the chile powder in a small bowl, pour in the boiling water and stir well to make a paste. Let it cool to room temperature. Work the paste into the meat with your fingers until it's well incorporated. Cover and refrigerate overnight before you use it. Store in 2-ounce portions in zip-top bags in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months.