Dried fruits, fresh apples, and nuts make a delightful dressing for these roasted Cornish hens. The dish seems perfect for a chilly fall evening, but it can certainly be served any time of the year.
2 tart apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and diced
2/3 cup dried apricots, cut into thin slices
2/3 cup raisins
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons melted butter
1/4 cup apple juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Cornish hens (about 1 1/4 pounds each), halved
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
How to Make It
Heat the oven to 425°. In a roasting pan, combine the apples, apricots, raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, and butter. Spread the mixture over the bottom of the pan.
In a small bowl, combine the apple juice, honey, thyme, and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt to make a glaze. Sprinkle the Cornish hens with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper and set them breast-side down on top of the fruit-and-nut mixture. Brush the hens with some of the glaze and then cook for 10 minutes.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Stir the fruit-and-nut mixture and turn the hens over. Brush them with more of the glaze, return the pan to the oven, and cook until just done, about 15 minutes longer. Glaze the hens one final time and serve them with the fruit-and-nut dressing.
Menu Suggestions: Earthy wild rice or bulgar pilaf will balance the sweet fruit dressing here.
Wine Recommendation: The fruits and nuts in this dish will pair well with the rich texture and flavor of a Tokay Pinot Gris, a white from Alsace in France. A red wine with plenty of fruit flavor, such as a grenache from California, would be another good match.