A Family Favorite 3

Cornish Game Hens from the Home Kitchen of Heather Lujan

“I’ve been making this recipe since the early ’90s,” says Heather Lujan, of Heather’s Savory Pies and Tapas Bar in downtown Basalt. 
”It’s what my grown kids still ask for whenever they come home now.”

Lujan, who jokes that the well-splattered pages of her cookbooks are evidence of her life as a true self-taught chef, counts her Cornish hens as the dish that has unfailingly brought her family together for decades.

“When my kids were little, they loved it because they each got their own hen,” she remembers. “And no utensils for this dish—just hands. It’s about the joy of food, the joy of eating.”

Lujan also periodically offers the dish as a special at Heather’s. Call ahead at 970.927.0151.

Fruit-Stuffed Cornish Game Hens

6 Cornish hens

2 Oranges

1 cup unsalted butter

1/2 cup diced yellow onion

2 tart apples, unpeeled, diced

1 cup green grapes

1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/2 cup good-quality breadcrumbs

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and freshly ground pepper


6 strips bacon, halved crosswise

1 cup dry sherry or Madeira

Watercress, for garnish

Rinse hens and pat dry. Grate oranges and reserve zest. Cut oranges into halves and rub inside and outside of hens. Melt half the butter in a skillet and cook onions. Combine apples, grapes, parsley, breadcrumbs, zest, 1/2 teaspoon thyme; pour butter and onions over. Season with salt and pepper, toss to combine, and stuff hens. Truss or skewer hens shut. Place in a shallow roasting pan and season with remaining spices. Arrange two pieces of bacon on the breast of each hen. Dot with remaining butter, pour wine into pan, and roast at 350 degrees on center rack for one hour, basting every 15 minutes.