I stuffed and roasted Cornish hens rather than serving turkey for Thanksgiving this year. We had two Thanksgiving feasts to attend within a 6 hour period of time. So, in an attempt to keep things lighter and simple, I decided to stuff these Cornish hens with duxelles, a classic french mushroom mixture, which provides a wild, earthy taste to the hens.
If you have never made duxelles, which is a concentrated mushroom base, it is time to add it to your repertoire. Duxelles are versatile and adaptable. You can add your own favorite herbs and spices or other ingredients. I am sharing a traditional french recipe for duxelles with you.
Duxelles, simply put, are a combination of fresh mushrooms that are finely chopped and then cooked with seasonings until all of the liquid from the mushrooms has evaporated. I used white button mushrooms and shiitake for my preparation of duxelles this year. If you desire an even earthier flavor, rehydrate 2-3 ounces of dried mushrooms and add those to the mushroom mixture to further enhance the flavors.
Most french recipes use shallots. Because I am from south Louisiana, I prefer green onions in and on almost everything. So I sautéed a little green onion and some garlic in butter. I chopped the mushrooms in the food processor. They need to be very fine but not pureed. If you use the food processor, make sure that you pulse the mushrooms so that they do not turn into paste. I season the mushrooms with a splash of white wine or sherry, dried thyme, and some fresh chopped Italian parsley.
You can serve this warm mushroom mixture as an appetizer with toasted slices of crusty bread. Duxelles are also wonderful when stuffed into ravioli. Stir a spoonful of the mushrooms into gravy or a frittata, or serve on top of a grilled steak.
For this recipe, I used the technique of stuffing the mushroom mixture in between the skin and the meat of the hen. This keeps the hen moist and imparts a deep, rich, mushroom flavor to the roasted Cornish hens.
So, this week, you have learned two new skills; how to make duxelles, which has many uses in many recipes, and how to stuff a hen! My hope is that you will put these skills to good use this holiday season.
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