Sephardic Moroccan Cornish Hens with Olives and Apricots

A Cornish hen, or Rock Cornish hen is simply a broiler-fryer chicken that weighs between one and two pounds. When split, it ensures each diner gets both white and dark meat, and makes a lovely presentation.

Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 4 (1 1/2 pound) Cornish hens
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups dried apricots
  • 1 (10-ounce) jar pimento stuffed Spanish olives

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the mint, cilantro, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, cumin, coriander and cinnamon in a blender and process until finely chopped; reserve.
  3. Combine the vinegar, chicken broth and brown sugar in a bowl; mix well to dissolve the sugar.
  4. Remove and discard the giblets from the hens then rinse under cold water and pat dry. With a sharp knife split the hens in half lengthwise then season with salt and pepper. Divide the apricots and olives between 2 cookie sheets. Set 4 hen halves, skin side up, on top of the apricots and olives on each pan.
  5. Rub the mint mixture evenly over the skin of each hen then gently pour the vinegar mixture over. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes or refrigerate up to 24 hours.
  6. Bake the hens until the juices run clear and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the breast registers 165°F, about 1 hour 20 minutes. Serve the hens with the apricots, olives and pan juices.
  • Yield: 8 Servings


This dish combines the universally appealing flavors of sweet, salty and sour—and can be prepared a day ahead and baked just before serving.