Cratchit Family Christmas Dinner
Another year, another Christmas Carol. There are just so many of them, I couldn’t resist. Last year, when I covered A Christmas Carol, I said it’s my very favorite animated version of the story. Well, so is Mickey’s Christmas Carol. (I have trouble picking favorites.) It was one of my first tastes of A Christmas Carol and, come on, it’s Disney. Everywhere you look, a beloved character shows up to take on a role from this classic. Among them you’ll see Mickey and Co., Mr. Toad, Willie the Giant, and Jiminy Cricket. And let’s not forget about Scrooge McDuck starring as his namesake! Ebenezer Scrooge is a cruel man, but his sense of humor and attitude make it tough to hate him. However, just because I like him doesn’t mean I’m happy with how he treats people like Fred (Donald), the Collectors for the poor (Ratty and Moley), and Isabelle (Daisy). And the poor Cratchits! Bob (Mickey) says he gets paid two shillings and a ha’penny and that’s only because he got a raise for doing Scrooge’s laundry. That’s not nearly enough to support his family. Did you see their Christmas dinner?
The Cratchit Family’s Christmas dinner consists of one very small bird, some brown stuff, and peas. I’m not saying it’s bad. I’m sure Mrs. Cratchit (Minnie) is a wonderful cook, but that’s supposed to feed a family of five? And it doesn’t help that the Ghost of Christmas Present (Willie) shows up with the food of generosity. After seeing mince pies, turkey, and suckling pig, you know that the Cratchit dinner isn’t going to be a pretty sight. Then Scrooge compares it to a canary! If I didn’t feel for the Cratchits already, I would after seeing Tiny Tim (Morty Fieldmouse) walk in and say, “Oh, my! Look at all the wonderful things to eat.” (My heart!) And then there’s my favorite scene where Bob slices his one little pea. That’ll stay with me forever because of how unbelievably silly/sad it is. Oh, and if that isn’t enough to break your heart, Tiny Tim tries to give his dad his drumstick. (Tiny Tim, you sweet, little angel.) It’s sad when this meal is made for an entire family, but for one person, it’d be quite the little feast.
Just what bird Mrs. Cratchit cooked up, I have no idea, but I’m going to use a Cornish game hen. As for the mysterious brown stuff, I’m guessing it’s stuffing. And the peas, well they’re peas.
Recipe makes Christmas dinner for one.
Cornish Game Hen:
1 Cornish game hen
½ large onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon butter
½ tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
2 ounces bread crumbs
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup peas, fresh or frozen
¾ tablespoon butter, melted
Cornish Game Hen:
Rinse the Cornish game hen and dry thoroughly. Place on a rack over a pan in the fridge, uncovered, for 1-24 hours, the longer the better.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Rub a liberal amount of butter, up to a tablespoon, on the Cornish game hen, inside and out and under the skin. Then season it, inside and out, with liberal amounts of salt and pepper. Truss the Cornish game hen and place on a small rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. You can also place it on a small rack inside the pan.
Melt butter in a small pan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Remove from heat and add the sage. Add the breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper. Add enough egg until the mixture just comes together when pressed. Break up the stuffing into large chunks and place on the pan with the Cornish game hen.
If you are using fresh peas, boil them for 2-3 minutes. Drain and dry thoroughly. If you are using frozen, thaw and dry thoroughly. In a bowl, combine peas, butter, salt, and pepper.
Putting It All Together:
Bake the Cornish game hen and stuffing until the thickest part of the thigh reads 160-165 degrees F and the juices run clear, about 1 hour. When you have about 20 minutes left of cooking time, add the peas to the pan. Remove from the oven and loosely tent with foil. Let rest 10 minutes. Untruss the Cornish game hen and serve it up with some stuffing and peas. Enjoy!
Everyone seems to have their own way of cooking birds, so do what works best for you and your oven. I didn’t use a brine, but you can if you prefer. Also, you can rub the Cornish game hen with olive oil or nothing at all. And you can easily make more or less of anything.
I feel so awful. I used the smallest Cornish game hen I could find and it’s still huge compared to Mrs. Cratchit’s “canary.” I couldn’t even eat the whole thing in one sitting. But despite not having a whole lot, the Cratchits are still a pretty happy family because they have each other. And thanks to Scrooge’s change of heart, they can afford to keep it that way. The toys and the turkey aren’t bad either, but it’s being with family and friends that makes it a merry Christmas Day.
I’ll be taking a break for the next two weeks.
Tune in next year for more Cartoon Cravings!