I could barely cut the carrots after my bootcamp workout, but I was determined to eat after preparing and cooking this dish for an hour.
I was looking through my archives and remembered how robust the rice mixture was in the Greek gemista, or stuffed tomatoes, recipe. I wanted that smell of herbs and raisins together, but I also wanted to eat, believe it or not, chicken. Cornish hens were on sale in my supermarket, so I ended up picking them instead. They’re smaller and takes less time to cook anyway. I called my mother to make sure there were still raisins in the cupboard. She also had walnuts handy, so I used them in lieu of almonds or pine nuts.
The great thing about stuffing is that you can use almost anything. If I found leftover bacon in the fridge–yeah, right–I would use them; same for chopped Chinese sausages or sautÃ©ed ground meat. I threw in arugula and baby carrots for more festive coloring. The result? Fragrant rice-stuffed Cornish hens a month before Thanksgiving.
2 Cornish hens, washed thoroughly and dried with paper towels
2 cups cooked rice
1 small carrot, roughly chopped
1 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup walnuts, crushed
2 handfuls of arugula
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 tbsps pomegranate molasses
2 tbsps chili powder
salt, pepper, oil
1. Preheat oven to 350Âº. In a small bowl, mix some oil and chili powder with salt and pepper until pasty. Spread paste all over hens using a spatula. Let marinate while you prepare the rice mixture.
2. To prepare the rice mixture, sautÃ© garlic and shallots in some hot oil. Add carrots and cook until tender. Add arugula and mix until wilted. Add the rice, raisins and walnuts. Mix well. Season with some salt, pepper and molasses. Toss for a few more minutes until all the flavors have penetrated the rice. Remove from heat.
3. Spoon some rice mixture a little at a time and stuff the inside of the hens. Use a spatula to make sure you get as much rice in the hens as possible, but without over-stuffing. Transfer stuffed hens to a baking dish and bake for 45 minutes, turning after 20, or until clear juice comes out of the thighs when pierced with a fork. Switch the oven to broil and brown the hens for 8 extra minutes.