Roasted Rock Cornish Game Hens with North African Flavors

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Post Thu, Mar 04 2021, 11:41 am
I hadn't made Rock Cornish Hens for awhile so this recipe inspired me. I am sure it could be modified for standard chicken parts.

The chickpeas and tomatoes are cooked in the same pan so you have the dual benefit of the ingredients self flavoring each other as well as not having to make separate side dishes. I just used some bagged green salad but the combination of the hen, chickpeas, tomatoes with the spices from the chicken were delicious.

Roasted Rock Cornish Game Hens with North African Flavors

Excerpt From: Jody Adams - In the Hands of a Chef

One-pound birds, if you can find them, make ideal generous single portions, but sometimes the selection runs between 1½ and 2 pounds. Instead of serving each person an individual bird, I simply carve the larger birds into breasts and leg-thigh pieces and serve them family-style on a platter.

The saffron, cinnamon, cumin, and ginger in this recipe shift the flavor into a Moroccan key, a welcome change in the cold-weather months. Onions, chickpeas, and tomatoes roast beneath the hens, catch their drippings, and turn into a wonderfully rich mash. Be careful not to use more than a pinch of saffron, or it will overpower all the other spices (and the hens and anything else you’re eating).


4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons paprika
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
Pinch of saffron, soaked in ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 Rock Cornish game hens (about 1 pound each) Kosher salt
2 lemons, washed well and cut into quarters
2 tablespoons dark raisins
2 large white onions (about 1½ pounds total), sliced 1 inch thick
1 pound ripe plum tomatoes, each cut into 4 wedges, then halved crosswise
2 cups cooked chickpeas - if using canned chickpeas, rinse well
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

DO AHEAD: Make the spice paste and rub it into the hens 4 hours ahead of time; cover the hens loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to cook. Cook the chickpeas.

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Mix the garlic, paprika, cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cumin, coriander, saffron with its lemon juice, and ¼ cup of the vegetable oil in a large bowl to make a spice paste. Toss the hens in the bowl with the spice paste and rub them until they’re evenly coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Marinate for at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.

3. Remove the hens from the refrigerator; do not scrape off the marinade. Sprinkle the hens liberally inside and out with salt. Put a lemon quarter and one-quarter of the raisins in the cavity of each bird. Put the onions in the bottom of a roasting pan, season with salt and pepper, and toss with the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Put two V-racks (or arrange two regular racks into a V) over the onions, and place 2 hens breast side down on each rack.

4. Roast for 30 minutes, then turn the birds breast side up, give the onions a stir, and roast for an additional 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas to the pan and roast for an additional 15 minutes, or until the skin has browned and the hens are cooked through. The juices should run clear from the thickest part of the thigh when poked with a skewer; an instant-read digital thermometer inserted at the same spot should read 165°F. Transfer the hens to a platter.

5. Add the chopped parsley to the vegetable mixture in the roasting pan, stir, and taste for seasonings. Spoon the mixture around the platter. Garnish with the remaining lemon quarters.

Serve immediately.
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