Stuff It

As many of you know, I love recipes where vegetables and meats are stuffed with all sorts of things. It’s a great way to combine your starch and protein or the vegetable and protein in your meal. Recently I made some portabellos stuffed with chicken, wild rice, mushrooms and some white wine. It was delicious. But I’m teaching a class tomorrow with an unusual recipe and thought I would share it here today.

In the US, we often think of stuffing as a bread based item. But try to expand your thoughts this! Rice, vegetables, cous cous, bulgur and barley all make excellent stuffing bases. The recipe I’m featuring here today has a nut and dried fruit stuffing that is going to knock your guests socks off! This Moroccan/Middle Eastern inspired dish has a ton of flavor and will shake things up at your dinner table.

Za’atar Spiced Game Hens with Dried Fruit and Nut Stuffing- Serves 8

4 Cornish Game Hens

3-4 tsp Za’atar spice blend

Olive Oil

Fruit and Nut Stuffing- see recipe below

¾ Cup Chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Pat hens dry and stuff cavity of each with 1/3 cup of fruit and nut stuffing. Place hens in a large flameproof roasting pan and rub all over with spice mixture, including underneath skin of breast meat (loosen skin gently with your fingers). Tuck wings underneath body, then secure legs together with a wooden pick or tie with kitchen string. Pour chicken stock into bottom of pan.

Roast hens 30 minutes, then brush with pan drippings. Continue to roast, basting every 10 minutes, until juices run clear when a thigh is pierced, 25 to 30 minutes more (50 to 60 minutes total). Transfer hens to a cutting board and allow hens to rest 10-15 minutes before serving.
For the stuffing:

1 cup whole almonds with skin, toasted and cooled

1 cup unsalted shelled pistachios

1 ¼ cup dried apricots, coarsely chopped (5 ounces)

1 cup pitted dried dates, coarsely chopped

¾  cup cream Sherry

1 (3- by 1/2-inch) strip orange zest, finely chopped (1 teaspoon)

1/3 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom

1/3 teaspoon cayenne

In a food processor set with a metal blade coarsely chop the nuts. Add the fruits and coarsely chop. Add Sherry, zest and spices and blend until incorporated.

What do you think? Write me and let me know if you try this recipe. It’s excellent for a special occasion or even a weeknight meal since the stuffing takes minutes in the food processor. Good luck and stuff away!

Jennifer

 
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