From Carole Kotkin’s Sunday Supper
Maple-Glazed Cornish Hens with Cornbread and Pancetta Stuffing
If you’re having a small holiday gathering, these single-serving birds would be a lovely, time-saving alternative to turkey. Round out the meal with sweet potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce. Beaujolais nouveau has just been released and would be a perfect accompaniment.
14 ounces cornbread (favorite recipe or mix)
7 ounces pancetta
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1⁄2 onion, finely chopped
1 small egg
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
6 Cornish hens
For the glaze:
2/3 cup maple syrup
1 clove garlic, crushed
Hot sauce (such as Tabasco), to taste
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the stuffing, crumble the cornbread into a bowl. Cut the pancetta into meaty chunks and fry it in its own fat until colored on all sides. Add to the cornbread. In the same pan, sauté the celery and onion until they are soft but not colored. Mix with the cornbread and add the egg, thyme and some salt and pepper. Fork the butter through as well. Wash the insides of the hens well, dry with paper towels and season the insides with salt and pepper. Fill the hens with the stuffing and tie with string.
To make the glaze, boil the maple syrup until it is reduced by a third. Mix with the garlic and hot sauce and brush or spoon over the birds. (You won’t use all of it — keep some back for basting.) Season well with salt and pepper.
Cook the birds for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the juices run clear when you poke a knife between the body of the bird and the thigh. Baste often with the cooking juices and the rest of the maple syrup. Makes 6 servings.
Source: Adapted from “Roast Figs, Sugar Snow” by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, $19.99)
Per serving: 1100 calories (55 percent from fat), 66.5 g fat (21.8 g saturated, 22.7 g monounsaturated), 426 mg cholesterol, 69 g protein, 53 g carbohydrates, 1.8 g fiber, 882 mg sodium.