Holiday Hens with Fig Glaze and Cornbread Stuffing

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Inactive: 35 min
  • Cook: 1 hr
  • Yield: 4 servings
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1 1/2 cups dried California figs, pitted and roughly chopped

1/4 cup honey

2 tablespoons lemon juice

3 cups warm water

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1 stick unsalted butter, for the glaze

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves

1/4 pound loose sweet Italian sausage

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

4 cornbread muffins, torn into pieces, or 1/2 loaf cornbread, cubed (about 2 cups)

1 cup rehydrated dried figs, roughly chopped



1/2 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup chicken stock, homemade or store-bought

4 Cornish game hens, 1 to 1 1/2 pounds each

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Begin by re-hydrating the figs. In a large mixing bowl add the figs, honey, lemon juice and cover with warm water. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20 to 25 minutes until the figs are tender and soft. Strain the figs and reserve the liquid - as this will be the base for the glaze.
  3. To make the stuffing, heat a little extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat and gently saute the onions with rosemary. Add the sweet Italian sausage and continue to saute until browned, 10 to 12 minutes. When done, scrape it all into a large mixing bowl, add the cornbread pieces and figs and season well with salt and pepper. Give it a good toss until it's well combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, cream, and stock, and pour that over the cornbread. Stir the stuffing together and set it aside while you work on the hens.
  4. Wash and clean the birds. Season the cavities with salt and pepper and fill with stuffing. Dot the top of each bird with butter and season with salt and pepper. Lay out on a roasting tray and pop into the oven for 40 to 45 minutes. While they are roasting, set the fig liquid over medium-high heat and add balsamic and butter. Reduce until syrupy and baste the birds with 10 minutes to go. When done, an instant-read thermometer should registers 160 degrees F in the thickest part of the thigh. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.