Kitchen Focus

If you are hosting an intimate Thanksgiving dinner this year, why make your life miserable and opt for a huge turkey? Instead, consider a variety of options that can make for a lovely meal that brings friends and family together. The number of options has always been large, but with increased availability comes even more delicious ways to celebrate.

Instead of getting into a lot of details -- who has time for details this time of the year anyway -- I want to share a nice list of options with you and one recipe that is particularly well suited to an intimate Thanksgiving dinner for two. First, a list of great turkey alternatives:

  • Whole roaster chicken
  • Turkey breast -- bone-in or boneless
  • Cornish hens
  • Pheasant
  • Duck
  • Goose

If you want to explore outside of poultry, I highly recommend pork or beef tenderloin as well. And salmon or lobster can make for an interesting seafood feast as well!

Cornish hens make a lovely option for small groups since each hen feeds one person. Everyone gets their own little Thanksgiving bird this way! Be careful to not over-bake the birds as they tend to dry out easily.

Honey-Roasted Cornish Hens with Dried Cherry Stuffing

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium shallot, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, trimmed and chopped
  • 1 packed cup firm bread cubes
  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2 (1-pound) Cornish hens
  • 2 teaspoon butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Prepare stuffing for Cornish hens by melting the butter in a small skillet. Add the shallot and celery and sauté 5 minutes. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat with the butter. Add the dried cherries and chicken broth and toss to moisten the mixture.

Spoon the stuffing into the cavities of each hen, filling completely, but not packing the stuffing in. Place the hens on the rack of a shallow roasting pan. Spread 1 teaspoon butter over each of the hens and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast in a 325 degree F oven for 30 minutes.

Combine the orange juice, honey mustard, honey, vegetable oil, curry powder and ginger in a cup. Baste the hens generously with the orange juice mixture after 30 minutes of roasting. The hens should roast a total of 1 hour or until done. Remove the hens from the oven. Let them stand for 5 minutes before serving.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 30 minutes
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