Polenta Stuffed Cornish Hens & Balsamic Apricot Glaze
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Stuffed with savory polenta, herbs, and root vegetables, and then slow roasted with a sweet apricot glaze, these Polenta Stuffed Cornish Hens & Balsamic Apricot Glaze are the perfect addition to your holiday table! Cornish hens are my go-to meal when I want something special, while still keeping it small. The best part? They’re so simple to make, but are sure to impress at your next holiday meal!
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Some days you just don’t want to eat a whole turkey. Or cook a whole turkey. Or think about stuffing the leftover turkey in your already over-filled refrigerator. For those days, there’s a perfect alternative: Cornish Hens! Polenta Stuffed Cornish Hens & Balsamic Apricot Glaze, to be exact.
I get it. When it’s time for the holidays, you want the nostalgic comfort food that mom used to make. I feel the same way. But that’s why I love these stuffed Cornish hens so much. I get the warm comfort-food-feelings, while not having to do nearly as much work.
They’re like the mini-version of your traditional holiday turkey, and everyone gets their own personal one! These stuffed Cornish hens are perfect for a small get-together, or for those holidays where you’re flying solo. I’d even make these during the week, to make a normal weeknight feel a little special.
And the balsamic apricot glaze? Don’t even get me started. Let’s just say you’re going to love it. My fiance, Andrew, who doesn’t like apricots, loved this glaze.
It’s that good.
For this recipe, I used the Tyson® All Natural Premium Cornish Hen twin pack. It was perfect because I have four people in my house, so I picked up two 2-packs at my local Walmart and had enough to make a special dinner for all of us. Just in case you’re wondering, here’s where I found them, snuggled right in there in the refrigerated meat section:
While Tyson is our lovely sponsor today, I can confidently say that I actually really enjoy this product. I mean, it’s Cornish hens. What’s not to like? Personally, I’m happy that they’re 100% natural with no added hormones or steroids (who really likes those things, anyway?). No artificial ingredients, and minimally processed. Sign me up.
There are so many great ways to prepare these, so you can really get creative with it. Slow cooker, roasting, grilling, the sky’s the limit. Personally, I prefer stuffed Cornish hens. I may change my mind when grilling season rolls around.
Just in case you’re wondering, this is what the packaging looks like. The cool thing about these twin packs is that the hens are still each in their own individually sealed bags, just in case you plan on freezing them, so they won’t get freezer burned. Which is great if you have a busy schedule like me, you can do your shopping once and freeze things until you’re ready to cook them.
So juicy… So delicious…
If you’ve never had stuffed Cornish hens before, it’s seriously time to try them now. The first time I ever tried Cornish hen was at a friend’s birthday dinner party. There was about eight of us, and we were each served a plate with stuffed Cornish hens and some sides. The hens had a Polenta/cornmeal stuffing that was made with Portuguese flavors. I’m not sure exactly how they were made, but I know one thing: They. Were. Amazing.
Seriously. Ten years later and I’m still thinking about them.
I know stuffing can be a touchy subject around the holidays. Everyone has their own version, usually the one their mom made, and there’s no way around it. That’s why I love this stuffed Cornish hens recipe so much. You’re free to use whatever stuffing you’d like.
Personally, I like the Polenta stuffing I’ve written out in this recipe (because, hey, I wrote it). You can also use my Root Vegetable Gluten Free Stuffing for this one.
Go with your own taste preference here.
I also highly recommend serving these with Creamy Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes. Because who doesn’t love mashed potatoes?
Nobody, that’s who.
Polenta Stuffed Cornish Hens & Balsamic Apricot Glaze
- 4 medium cornish hens
For the Stuffing
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 medium stalks celery, chopped
- 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 18 oz prepared polenta, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock, gluten free
For the Glaze
- 10 oz apricot preserves
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried ginger
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add olive oil, onion, carrots, celery, parsnip, garlic, salt, pepper, and thyme to pan and cook until softened (about 5 minutes).
- Add sauteed vegetables to a large mixing bowl with polenta, eggs, and stock. Mix all ingredients together. Let cool slightly.
- Stuff cornish hens with polenta mixture, dividing it evenly between four hens. Place hens breast-side-up in large skillet or roasting pan. Tie legs of Cornish hens together with cooking twine.
- In a medium bowl whisk together apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, and ginger. Pour glaze over each hen, making sure to coat them evenly.
- Bake hens for 30 minutes. Baste with glaze, then bake for an additional 20-30 minutes, or until Cornish hens look roasted and have reached an internal temperature of 165°F (in the thickest part of the thigh).
- Remove twine before serving.
If the hens look too brown, simply cover the pan with tinfoil for the remainder of the cooking process.
Feel free to use your own favorite stuffing in your Cornish hens!
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