Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving for the Smaller Table

For the past ten years or so, I've gone to Florida with my family for Thanksgiving. We don't have much extended family, at least not any close by, so our holidays have always been a bit small. When my oldest sister got hitched and it was just my parents and Lindsey and I, we started inviting folks over on Thanksgiving, but even that felt pretty modest. That's why I'm very excited to spend the holiday with Sean's family this year. The extended family lives close by for the most part, and those who don't are driving in. I think Thanksgiving is a great time for a large group, a festive feast, and even if your family is small it's nice to attend a good party or go over to a friends house this time of year. However, if there's just a couple of you, cooking a huge turkey and all the fixings can be overwhelming and impractical for your personal Thanksgiving meal. Never fear: I'm here to help.

I think it's important to cook something special on the holidays. It helps to set the occasion apart, hence the traditional whole Turkey. But if fifteen pounds of poultry is a little over the top for you and just a couple other guests, consider this recipe I found for Roasted Cornish Hens with Apples and Onions. What's great about the cornish hen is they always feel really special to make and to eat, plus you get the satisfaction of serving the whole bird. They are a bit of a delicacy and certainly aren't the most practical, but they're so small that it makes them easy to work with. They don't dry out like other birds in the oven since it doesn't take as long for them to cook the whole way through. This particular recipe is festive and rich: perfect to serve alongside mashed potatoes and all the other Thanksgiving accouterments. Part of it even includes a delicious gravy! I like that it's a simple recipe that produces a complex flavor. You'll need a dutch oven for this one, as well as: 2 Cornish Hens, olive oil, an onion, 2 apples, dried thyme, a smidgen of brandy, and a splash of apple cider. If you have flour or cornstarch nearby, it might be handy to thicken the gravy. Follow the link above for the complete instructions and read on for a visual How To after the jump!

The hens initially browning on the stove. Be sure to coat them generously with salt and pepper.

After I flipped mine over to brown on the other side. Note: this is what happens when you don't agitate the pan like the recipe says. The skin will stick to the bottom.

Filled in with all the goodies! Now cook it 20 minutes covered and then about equal time uncovered after that and presto! A smaller, but equally delicious, Thanksgiving meal.
I must offer my sincere apologies: I got so excited to eat this, like a nerd, that I forgot to photograph it once I'd plated it. I served it alongside mashed potatoes and with some salad. Let the fact that I was so desperate to consume it be a recommendation to you: it was delish! -hil

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