Tiny Turkey (Roasted Game Hen with Wild Rice, Cashew and Mushroom Dressing)

Dark Cornish Hen

Dark Cornish Hen

by Cat, Thanksgiving, 2016 (photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

A couple years ago, I roasted a Cornish game hen and Rosemary/Apple Stuffing for Thanksgiving. This year I will try a different dressing of wild rice with cashews and mushrooms, basing this on my Wild Rice with Cashews & Mushrooms side dish, and a recipe from the All Recipes site (2).

See my testing for Thanksgiving, Nov 23 – 24, 2016. I’ve adjusted the recipe per my testing. It makes too much stuffing for one game hen (2 servings plus some leftovers); it is better suited to two game hens, or cutting the stuffing recipe in half.

See also: 1. About Cornish Game Hens, Grouse, Pheasant & Other Small Fowl for brining instructions; 2. Main Course menu: Poultry & Fowl for more game hen recipes.

Roasted Game Hen with Wild Rice, Cashew and Mushroom Dressing

This recipe was originally adapted from Cornish Game Hens with Rosemary and Apple Stuffing (1) on Food.com. Now I want to try a different dressing. NOTE: I call it a dressing because I don’t stuff the bird with it; instead I roast it separately alongside the bird, or I place the partially-roasted bird on top to finish roasting (this is to avoid risk of undercooking).

This stuffing is adapted form my Wild Rice with Cashews & Mushrooms side-dish, and Wild Rice with Rosemary & Cashew Stuffing from All Recipes blog (2). This version uses a long-cooking method for the wild rice (using chicken stock for the last water addition), to break down the anti-nutrients, that is not included in the original All Recipes version.

The original All Recipes version makes enough stuffing for a small chicken; I’ve reduced it somewhat, but it still makes enough for 2 game hens plus leftovers. You can reduce stuffing by half if only making one game hen.

Ingredients & Equipment:

Stuffings/dressings are listed below the bird recipe

  • Bird
  • 1 Cornish game hen (defrosted, if frozen), brined
  • Marinade
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh basil (optional)
  • ½ garlic clove (chopped; reserve the other half for the stuffing)
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ Tbsp fresh diced red peppers (optional)
  • baking dish (pyrex)
  • Equipment for bird
  • large bowl for brining
  • Baking sheet or pan for roasting (glass is OK if oven is below 400°F)
  • Baking dish (pyrex) for stuffing if baking separately
  • Stuffing/Dressing
  • ½ cup wild rice
  • 3 Tbsp long-grain white or brown rice (don’t use short-cooking white rice like Uncle Ben’s)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ⅓ cup chopped onion
  • ⅓ cup chopped fresh (or reconstituted, dried) mushrooms
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • ¾ cup shopped cashews
  • butter, as needed
  • 1 – 1 ¼ cups chicken stock
  • scant ¼ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • Sauce (Optional):
  • roasting drippings
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • ½ Tbsp tapioca starch or unbleached white flour as thickener
  • Equipment for dressing:
  • mesh strainer
  • saucepan
  • cast iron skillet
  • simmer plate
  • baking dish with lid or foil for lid (if not stuffing bird)


  1. Brine and Marinate Hen: 
  2. Rinse and butterfly hen. Brine for 2 – 3 hours. Remove from brine and rinse well, then pat dry.
  3. While the bird is brining, prepare the marinade: Combine all marinade ingredients, then brush over bird and place in a baking pan with lid (or use a zip-top plastic bag). Marinate in refrigerator 2 – 3 hours.
  4. Prep dressing/stuffing: 
  5. Cover wild rice with water in saucepan and bring to a boil; drain through strainer. Repeat to more times, but don’t drain after 3rd boil. Instead, reduce heat to simmer and cook until most of the seeds have cracked open. Remove from heat and set aside with white rice (not pre-boiled).
  6. Chop onion and mushrooms separately. Chop cashews. Chop or snip rosemary leaves. Set each aside, separately.
  7. Sauté onion in oil until translucent and tender. Stir in mushrooms and sauté until soft. Add rosemary and cook 1 minute. Stir in cashews and cook another minute. Add butter, 1 tsp at a time as needed during the veggie/nut cooking process, to keep them from drying out or browning too much.
  8. Transfer to saucepan (or if skillet has enough room, leave in skillet) and add 1 cup stock. Stir in wild and regular rice. Cover, bring to a boil, then slow simmer (using simmer plate if needed) until stock is absorbed, 30 – 45 min. Check for tenderness after 30 min and add more stock as needed.
  9. When tender, remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes.
  10. Meanwhile, butter baking dish. Add rice mixture and cover with lid or buttered foil; set aside until ready to roast.
  11. Roast hen: Preheat oven to 4oo°F. * Because I marinated in a baking pan with lid, I left the hen and marinade in that pan to roast it – that makes it easier to baste/brush it.
  12. If you didn’t brine the hen, sprinkle with salt. Place hen in oven, lowering heat to 375°F,* and roast 30 minutes. Brush/baste with marinade that drops off.
  13. Place prepped stuffing (in its covered baking dish) in oven (after bird has been in oven 30 minutes).
  14. After another 30 minutes, brush/baste bird, and remove cover from stuffing.
  15. Continue to roast both another 15 minutes. Brush/baste bird again and remove stuffing from oven, to keep warm (total 45 minutes in oven).
  16. Continue to roast hen every 15 minutes (checking internal temp of thigh for doneness after 75 and 90 minutes as needed). However, I find my instant-read thermometer is not very accurate with this small bird, so I go by feel. Total roasting time for bird is about 90 minutes.
  17. Remove to platter and cover with foil tent to rest before carving or cutting in half along breast-bone.
  18. Optional sauce: Transfer drippings to cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add ½ cup chicken stock and stir to mix, heating until it comes to a boil. Thicken with flour or tapioca starch mixed with water (about ½ Tbsp flour/starch for ½ cup added stock). Adjust seasoning, though I found the drippings provided plenty of flavor.

* Alternately, you can slow-roast with oven preheated to 3oo°F, then reduced to 250°F when you add the stuffed bird (or just the bird, and roast stuffing separately in 350°F oven).  I’m not sure about the stuffing, as I’ve not tested this recipe for slow-roasting yet.


Kuhn Rikon Food Chopper

Kuhn Rikon Food Chopper

11/23-24/2016: Brined bird, then set to marinate on Wed, 11/23. Started the stuffing at 1:30 PM on 11/24 with pre-boiling the wild rice 2 times, then added the white rice to rest until ready to put stuffing together. Forgot to thaw chicken stock so that delayed things a bit. Stuffing: Started prepping veggies  at 2 PM. Chopping cashews with a knife isn’t easy as they want to jump around…so I switched to my Kuhn-Rikon chopper (image left (4)). Snipped rosemary with scissors, a few at a time. Added about 1 Tbsp butter, divided, with mushrooms and cashews because mix was too dry. Used same skillet rather than transferring to saucepan, for adding broth and rice to cook; needed simmer plate to keep at slow simmer. Checked after 30 min: not tender yet. Nice flavor, but decided to add some thyme, and about 2 Tbsp stock Simmered another 15 minutes; almost tender. Transferred to baking dish; it will finish in the oven. Meanwhile, took marinating bird out of fridge at 3:45 PM to warm, and left oven on. Roast: Increased oven to 375° at 5 PM and placed bird in oven at 5:15. basted bird, and put stuffing into oven at 5:45. Baste again and remove cover from stuffing at 6:15. Baste again at 6:30, and removed stuffing from oven, re-covering with lid and kept in warm place (near stove’s pilot light). Out of oven at 6:45. Transferred bird to a platter and tented with foil. Scraped drippings to skillet and added ½ cup chicken stock to make sauce, thickening with tapioca starch. No additional seasoning needed. Result: Hen is wonderfully delicious, as is the sauce. The stuffing has a nice flavor, but most of the wild rice in didn’t crack open, so were tough and hard to chew. Next time I will cook them after the 3rd boil until most have cracked open, before combining with other ingredients. Recipe updated accordingly. I also added instructions for the sauce made from the drippings. Future testing: I will either reduce stuffing recipe by half, or just make the regular Wild Rice with Cashews & Mushrooms.


  1. Food.com recipe: food.com/recipe/cornish-game-hens-with-rosemary-and-apple-stuffing-406356
  2. All Recipes recipe, Rosemary & Cashew Stuffing: allrecipes.com/recipe/46219/wild-rice-with-rosemary-and-cashew-stuffing
  3. My version of Wild Rice with Mushrooms and Cashews, adapted from Best of Friends, Etc., by Darlene Glantz Skees
  4. Kuhn Rikon chopper image: pricefalls.com/product/kuhn-rikon-swiss-vegetable-chopper/28630170

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