2/3 cup chopped yellow onion (from about 1/2 large onion)
1/3 cup chopped celery (from about 1 medium rib)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
1 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth
3/4 cup seedless red grapes, halved lengthwise
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Olive oil cooking spray
4 1 1/4-lb. Cornish hens
3/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 thyme sprig
How to Make It
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring often, until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in rice; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour and 5 minutes. Stir in grapes, chopped thyme, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Transfer to a bowl; let cool for 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425°F. Place a wire rack in a foil-lined large rimmed baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Stuff warm rice mixture into cavities of hens; tie ends of legs together with kitchen twine and tuck wing tips under. Place hens breast-side up on rack. Rub with remaining 2 tablespoons butter and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake until golden brown and a thermometer inserted into thigh registers 160°F, about 35 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine vinegar, honey and thyme sprig in a small saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture is syrupy and reduced to about 1/4 cup, 7 to 8 minutes. Discard thyme sprig.
After hens have baked for 35 minutes, brush with vinegar mixture. Continue baking until hens are deeply browned and a thermometer inserted into thigh registers 165°F, about 10 minutes. (Shield hens with foil if needed to prevent excessive browning.) Remove from oven and let stand for 10 minutes. Split hens in half lengthwise; serve immediately.