Quinoa-Stuffed Cornish Hens

May 26, 2011

Most Friday nights my husband and I stay in for dinner and I cook something that takes a little more time to prep than during the week. I try to keep it interesting and vary the main dish, so some weeks I make traditional roast chicken and other times I make more unique recipes like beef stew and miso-ginger chicken and cabbage.  A couple of weeks ago we had company over and I tried a new recipe that I really loved. It was different than the typical roast chicken my husband is getting sick of and looked fancier than a basic chicken dish, but was still fairly easy to make. Of course I tweaked the original recipe that I found at Food & Wine, but the end result was great!

Quinoa-Stuffed Cornish Hens (adapted from Food & Wine’s Couscous-Stuffed Cornish Hens)
Serves: 6   


cornish hens recipe

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 Cornish hens
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the nuts in the oven until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Raise the heat to 425 degrees F. 
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the broth, apricots, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the almonds, 1 tablespoon of honey, the cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt and pepper. 
  3. Fill the cavities of the hens with the quinoa mixture. Twist the wings of the hens behind their backs, and if you like, tie the legs together. Put the hens breast-side up in a roasting pan. Coat the hens with the oil and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. 
  4. Roast the hens for 25 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of honey and continue roasting until just done, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. 
  5. When the hens are done, transfer them to a plate and leave to rest in a warm spot for about 5 minutes. Spoon the fat from the roasting pan and add the water to the juices. Cook over moderate heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any brown bits, until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cut the hens in half and serve with the stuffing and pan juices. 

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  1. I tried this for Friday night dinner this week and it was a hit! Made a few modifications — used skinned chicken legs instead of cornish hens and put the quinoa around them and under them instead of stuffing anything. Because of that, there were no extra juices to make a sauce, but everything was moist and delicious. This recipe is definitely a keeper – thanks!