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Test Kitchen: Game hens are flavorful alternative to turkey

By Jessica Rodrigo
Nov. 13, 2013 at 5:13 a.m.

Cornish game hens are  fun birds to prepare for Thanksgiving, especially if you don't have a huge group to cook for. I served this bird with a sweet and savory gravy and a combination mash of potatoes and turnips.

After I graduated college, I moved to the East Coast for an internship.

As I ended the internship in mid-October, I found myself jobless and homeless, so I moved back to Rio Rancho, N.M., to live on the couch in the parental units' living room.

I had just ended an amazing summer with chefs who shared with me their love of food. I was inspired to cook and wanted nothing more than to write about food and meet more people like them.

With each story they told, I made mental notes, and from them, my love for food grew, and my yearning to experiment with flavor combinations waxed.

I made my return in November, which meant I could show off my newfound skills at Thanksgiving. I was going to cook the turkey.

Unlike my normal capacity to read like a snail, I spent my summer reading biographies and autobiographies on chefs and other food lovers. I was beginning to think about food on a higher level than "What are we eating?" I was thinking, "What could we put in this dish to punch it up?" Or "What's this ingredient I've never cooked before but smells wonderful?"

So I came up with this recipe of a roasted turkey with grapes and thyme.

Most poultry can be subbed out for another, but a few adjustments need to be made to make it work right.

I used Cornish game hens for this recipe, but it could easily be increased for a chicken or turkey. The game hens also make for an easy presentation for parties. However, if you are doing anything slightly formal, I would butcher the game hens or carve them after cooking and before serving.

A lemon tarragon combination might work, too. Think outside the box with your flavors this holiday season.

Have a recipe or a dish you want me to test or have cooking questions? Send a message to or tweet @EatsEatsEats. I'm always hungry.



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