Cornish hens or other small roasted birds can make a festive holiday entrée when a large turkey seems too much of a project to cook—and too much food to eat. This light Thanksgiving or Christmas feast for six can be on the table in about two hours. A fruity Pinot Noir or a Merlot makes a nice match with the hens.

The onion-and-five-herb stuffing, a flavorful alternative to calorie-laden heavy stuffings, is a delicate accompaniment. Chestnuts provide the perfect starchy complement. Save time by buying cooked and peeled chestnuts, which are available in season in vacuum-packed jars of various sizes in most gourmet stores.

Broccoli, simply steamed and buttered, or braised carrots could fill out the vegetables. For a colorful and unusual salad, bitter lettuces contrast with a sweet-and-tart cranberry-orange vinaigrette. The wintry dessert of dried fruits simmered in Chardonnay with fresh ginger and spices satisfies with its rich flavors and textures and can also be served warm over ice cream. I keep a jar of these cooked dried fruits in my refrigerator year-round to accompany venison, duck, or goose or to purée and use as a spread for toast or brioche. Plan of attack: Make dessert a few days ahead, or prepare it first. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare hens and put in oven. Prepare chestnuts, then other vegetables if desired. Make salad.


Cornish Hens with Stuffing
Braised Chestnuts
Winter Greens with Cranberry-Orange Vinaigrette
Dried Fruits in Chardonnay