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Roasted Buttermilk Cornish Hens with Apple & Sausage Stuffing


You don’t have to brine these at all. You can skip that step and just season and roast your baby birds and proceed.


For the brine:

  • 1/2 gallon buttermilk (or just use water)
  • 1/4 cup kosher or sea salt (if brining under 6 hours, use a half cup of salt)
  • 1 lemon, peeled or zested
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp granulated garlic
  • 2 tbsp granulated onion
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp cayenne
  • 23 tbsp herbes de provence
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (or honey)
  • 24 small cornish hens

For the stuffing:

  • 8 large slices of sturdy artisan bread, cubed
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 honeycrisp or granny-smith apple, cored and chopped
  • 23oz sausage of choice, optional (I used apple-onion)
  • 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp herbes de provence
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp granulated onion
  • 1/3 cup craisins (optional)
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp scallions, chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

For the cornish hens:

  • Olive oil to coat
  • Sea salt & pepper to taste


  1. Mix all ingredients for brine together thoroughly and store hens overnight. If brining less than 6 hours, increase salt to 1/2 cup.
  2. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lay cubed bread on a large baking sheet, place in the oven and let it dry out and toast for about 15-20 minutes. Set aside. For the stuffing, heat large skillet over medium heat with a few tbsp of olive oil. Brown sausage for about 4 minutes. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 6 minutes. Add herbes de provence, crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add celery, apple, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, pepper, and salt. Cook until tender, about 6 minutes or so. Test it and taste it. Add granulated onion and garlic. Stir until combined. Add the dried out bread cubes and allow the bread to absorb any fat/juices left in the pan, about 2 minutes. Add the dried cranberries (craisins), if using. Turn off the heat. Pour in chicken broth, a little at a time until you’ve reach your desired consistency. Finally, add the lemon zest, and stir until combined. Transfer the stuffing to a large bowl to cool down for about 20 minutes. Add 1 beaten egg, scallions, and fresh parsley.
  3. Remove hens from the brine, rinse thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels and transfer to large baking sheet or cast iron skillet. Drizzle lightly with olive oil, and a light sprinkle of sea salt and pepper to taste. Stuff each hen with the stuffing mixture, then tie it closed with kitchen twine so the stuffing doesn’t spill out.
  4. Roast in a preheated 400 degree oven for about an hour or until the breast meat registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer. Allow hens to rest about 10 minutes before serving.
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