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Greek-Style Roasted Game Hens with Pine Nut Pilaf Stuffing

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Serves four.

Yields about 3 cups stuffing.

Joyce Goldstein likes to use this rice stuffing studded with pine nuts when roasting chickens or poussins as well as the game hens she suggests here. (Editors’ note: The pilaf is highly seasoned because it’s being used as a stuffing. If you’re serving it alone, you can decrease the amount of allspice to 1/2 tsp.) 

For the stuffing:
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt; more to taste
  • 1/2 cup raw long-grain rice, preferably basmati
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 Tbs. dried currants, plumped in hot water
  • 3/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 2-1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the game hens:
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Rock Cornish game hens (about 1-1/2 lb. each), rinsed and patted dry
Make the stuffing

In a saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Add the salt and stir in the rice. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer over low heat until the water has been absorbed and the rice is fully cooked, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the rice to a bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the currants (drained) and allspice and cook a few minutes more. Stir the onion mixture, pine nuts, and lemon zest into the cooked rice. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

Cook the hens:

Heat the oven to 400°F. Make a basting sauce by melting the butter and stirring in the allspice, garlic, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Spoon the cooled stuffing into the cavity of the hens. Set the hens on one large or two small racks in a large shallow roasting pan or large rimmed baking sheet. Spoon or brush half of the lemon butter over the birds. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast, basting occasionally with the butter, until the juices run clear when the leg is pierced with a skewer, 60 to 70 minutes. The internal temperature of the stuffing should be 160°F. Remove the birds and racks from the pan. Spoon off and discard the fat; pour any juices into a separate container. If there are nicely browned juices in the bottom of the pan, deglaze with a little broth or water and add to the other juices. Serve one bird per person with some of the pan juices, if you like.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 1300; Fat (g): fat g 83; Fat Calories (kcal): 750; Saturated Fat (g): sat fat g 31; Protein (g): protein g 106; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 30; Carbohydrates (g): carbs g 30; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 16; Sodium (mg): sodium mg 1590; Cholesterol (mg): cholesterol mg 385; Fiber (g): fiber g 2;

Photo: Steve Hunter

this is a great stuffing that comes together quickly with basic pantry ingredients. the quantity was perfect to stuff a 7 lb. roasting chicken. we didn't bother with the basting sauce because we're repurposing the leftovers for Tony Rosenfeld's Korean Bibimbap and Sesame Chicken.

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