A Cornish Thanksgiving

“A fresh-killed turkey needs to breathe.” Advice from a poultry farmer that I learned too late.

At 10 pm on the night before Thanksgiving, I discovered that the 18 lb. turkey had spoiled.

I had wrapped it 2 or 3 ways before placing it in a cold garage for storage, leaving room in an overcrowded refrigerator for other holiday foods.

It was something I had done for years with no complications. This year would be different. I had overwrapped the bird. The smell hit me as the first layer was removed.

A look of sheer horror fell upon my face, and my adult children came to the rescue.

They found one grocery store that was still open for business on the other side of town.


Food Network photo.

We arrived to find a few very large frozen birds that would never work.

And then, we saw them.

Four nearly identical Cornish game hens in the fresh meat aisle.

I remembered a recipe from Emeril Lagasse for an orange-glazed variety that was clipped from a magazine years before, but never tried.

It worked. It went so well with the traditional side dishes and desserts that were already prepared.

Thanksgiving has always been an important holiday, perfect for that food-focused family. But the years of traditional turkey and trimmings, carefully prepared, with some degree of culinary success ? Those have all paled in comparison to this near-disaster of a holiday with a happy ending.

It’s the one we will always remember.

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65 Responses to A Cornish Thanksgiving

  1. A marvelous recovery, Van. We cook all day and eat in less than an hour, but what a great time. Have a wonderful holiday! โค

  2. J.D. Riso says:

    Ah, it’s that time again. Living overseas, I forget. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Van.

  3. I’m glad it ended well. Have a lovely Thanksgiving.

  4. You worked together to problem solve as a family. That is the true spirit of Thanksgiving.

  5. A good save! I once had a dog we were sitting climb up on the table and eat a chunk out of a cooking cheesecake I was going to take to the inlaws the following day. I can’t say I was entirely forthcoming about how it had come to be damaged. I served it, and they ate it.

  6. Sounds like it was meant to happen that way. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Victo Dolore says:

    That sounds delicious!

  8. Just Plain Ol' Vic says:

    To be quite honest I would rather have a Cornish Hen over a turkey any day! Glad that “mistake” turned out well for you!

  9. Resourceful! Traditional meets a different approach. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and you hit a home run!

  10. When I was in my 20’s I made Thanksgiving Dinner. The turkey was raw and the pecan pie never solidified. Surprisingly, my family thought future Thanksgiving Day meals would be better enjoyed at my sister’s house. I couldn’t agree more! ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Sounds like fate to me! Those yummy little birds were your destiny:) great recipe..and happy thanksgiving to you!

  12. I seem to recall a very similar situation. I’ll never forget the smell. Good thing those Cornish Hens came to your rescue! And I never knew what you said about freshly killed turkeys. That is something I shall definintley stick in my head and not forget! Thank you, Van! โค

  13. Val Boyko says:

    The universe works in mysterious ways! โค๏ธ

  14. Elyse says:

    It looks delicious! Nice save. And I bet it wasn’t nearly as dry as a turkey would have been.

  15. George says:

    Have a very Happy Thanksgiving, Van.

    I wonder, have Cornish hens now become the tradition in your home?๐Ÿ˜Š

  16. compose a beautiful weekend Van….smiles and joy to you and your loved ones ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. amommasview says:

    Well done! It’s all about improvising! And with a good recipe at hand improvising turns into a fantastic dish!

  18. Nurse Kelly says:

    I love Cornish hens! And the recipe sounds delicious. Hope you have a wonderful day with your family. Happy Thanksgiving, Van xoxo

  19. polymath0 says:

    Oh no! I’m glad it turned out well in the end. There’s nothing like a good Thanksgiving horror story with a happy ending to take the load off of the day. I’ve had turkey nightmares, but never has one come to fruition…yet. Thanks for the story.

  20. Hope yours was a very Happy Thanksgiving, Van. :O)

  21. Kally says:

    Awesome post & Happy Thanksgiving!

  22. joey says:

    Right on! I can imagine your disappointment and your relief. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. I am so pleased Van that you managed to rescue the meal.. and these birds looked perfect and I bet that Orange glaze only added to their delight..
    Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day.. Love and Hugs Sue xxx

  24. Steph McCoy says:

    A near catastrophe averted. Thank goodness you were able to recover so well. Hope you and yours had a Happy Thanksgiving.

  25. Ann Koplow says:

    I’ll always remember the year I made Cornish Hens for Thanksgiving, decades ago. I give thanks for that memory and for you!

  26. So glad it worked out!!โ˜บ Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgivingโ˜บ

  27. dgkaye says:

    Glad your Thanksgiving went right after all. Brilliant idea to change things up a bit, perhaps a new tradition? ๐Ÿ™‚

  28. vinnieh says:

    That food looks supremely delicious.

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