What a Crock: Slow-cooked Cornish hens perfect for small groups _lowres

Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Not expecting a crowd for Thanksgiving? Serve Apple-Pecan Cornish Hens.

Perhaps you stock up on Cornish hens when they go on sale. I do, and it has saved me many times over when I needed a dinner idea.

Thanksgiving is no exception. In many households, including ours at times, a turkey is simply too much for a small gathering. Cornish hens are exceptionally easy, but especially tasty.

It’s the time of year when apples and pecans are also plentiful on the market so combining the ingredients offers a perfect solution for a small dinner.

Granny Smith apples are choice baking apples. Their tart flavor offers more of a zing to the taste buds, without overwhelming the hens themselves. The addition of celery, pecans and apple juice add great accent flavors. I typically take the Cornish hens out of the freezer and put them into the refrigerator the night before cooking. They are not completely thawed by morning, but enough so that the slow cooker won’t strain to get to temperature.

If you will be home for an hour after putting hens in, turn to high setting for an hour to help the cooker better reach a good temperature for cooking. If the cooker has a feature that will shift temperature from high to low automatically, this is one of those good times to use it.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

Julie Kay is a columnist for The Advocate. She can be reached at juliekay6122@gmail.com.