Coast Cooking

Try this simple and quick but elegant and inexpensive meal for Thanksgiving

Cornish game hens are elegant and inexpensive.
Cornish game hens are elegant and inexpensive. Special to the Sun Herald

Thanksgiving can be an expensive meal to prepare for your family. You might pay $60 for a traditional goose to roast, a 20-pound turkey could cost about $40 or more.

But there are other options.

Cornish game hens can be had for as little as $4.50 each, and if you are on a tight budget, you can serve each guest a half portion.

Cooking them could not be easier than cooking a big turkey or goose. They can be stuffed and roasted, they can be par-cooked and then deep fried, or if you have a newly purchased immersion circulator, cooking them sous vide might produce the best results.

For side dishes you could go with a milder version of dirty rice (we’ll use pork and skip the chicken livers). For vegetables, try yellow squash gently sautéed in garlic butter and cook some collard greens in a smoked ham stock.

Make this Thanksgiving a happy and inexpensive one for your family.

Roasted Cornish Game Hens

1 Cornish game hen per person

1 bunch fresh sage

½ lemon per hen

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

Butter as needed

Pre-heat oven to 375 f. Wash and dry the hens, stuff each hen with half a lemon (quartered), a small lump of butter and a small bunch of sage leaves. Rub the outside with butter, then season with Tony’s. Roast for 1 hour, or until the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh reaches 165 f. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.

Dirty Rice

This dish is traditionally made with chicken livers, but some people don’t care for liver in any form, so we are going to omit it. Once cooked, the rice can be used to stuff the hens, if you like.

1 cup white rice

2 cups chicken stock

2/3 cup ground pork (or fresh Italian sausage)

1 cup Creole Seasoning Mix (mix of onion, bell pepper and celery found in the refrigerated section on the vegetable isle)

Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning

1-2 pinches red pepper flakes

Olive oil

Combine the rice and stock and simmer (lid on or in a rice cooker) for 20 minutes. Sauté the pork, after seasoning, in a little olive oil until almost done, add the vegetables, season again and cook until the veggies are soft. Add the cooked rice, a little more olive oil, and sauté over medium high heat for 5 minutes. Serve warm. If it cools down before serving, add a lump of butter and re-heat.

Ham Stock Greens

1 bunch collard greens

2 bone-in smoked pork chops

Salt, pepper, 1-2 pinches red pepper flakes

3 cups chicken stock

Olive oil

Optional chopped jalapeno pepper

Stem the greens and rinse well. Chop the ham into bite-size pieces (add the jalapeno here), season and then sauté in olive oil until browned (include the bones). Add the stock, season and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the bones, then add the greens, a handful at a time, stirring until they wilt. Put the lid on and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer until tender. Please do not overcook.

Yellow Squash

1 medium size squash per person

Butter as needed

3-6 cloves chopped garlic

Salt and pepper

Optional chopped jalapeno pepper for extra spice

Cut the squash into a large dice. Add butter to a sauté pan, over medium low heat, add the squash (and jalapeno if you are using it) and season well. Stirring often, add the garlic 3-4 minutes before the squash is tender. Taste and re-season as necessary.