Lemony Cornish Hens

Reprinted with permission from The Community Table
by Judy Bernstein Bunzl, Katja Goldman, and Lisa Rotmil

Although roasted chicken is the gold standard in many Jewish homes for Friday night dinner, we think Cornish hens are a festive option at your Shabbat table (or even Passover Seder). Even if you’re too polite to lick your fingers at the table, someone else might do so while eating these succulent hens. (Just let them. And don’t cringe when they want to nibble on the bones.) The marinade can also be prepared in advance.

NOTE: You can use this marinade and technique for a 3-pound chicken cut into eighths as well. Just increase the cooking time.

Serves 4 to 8

  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup lemon juice
  • 1½ teaspoons red wine vinegar, to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped (about 1 teaspoon)
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano or ½ teaspoon fresh oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 Cornish hens, cut in half, backbone removed
  • ¼ cup chicken stock
  • ¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

 

Preheat the broiler on high for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine ¼ cup oil, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and oregano. Season with salt and pepper and whisk. (If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate. Whisk, or shake vigorously in a tightly closed container, before using).

Place the hens, skin side up, in roasting pans or shallow baking dishes that will fit into your broiler. Rub with the remaining olive oil. Working in 2 batches if necessary, broil the hens about 3 inches from the heat source, turning once, until their skin is golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes per side. Adjust the distance between the hens and the heat source if necessary to prevent burning.

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

When the hens are cool enough to handle, cut each half into 2 parts. Discard any fat that may have accumulated in the pans and arrange the hens in the pans so the pieces don’t overlap. Pour the lemon sauce over the hens and turn a few times to coat, finishing skin side up. Bake the hens for 10 to 15 minutes more, until juices run clear.

Transfer the hens to a warm platter. Pour the juices from the pans into a heavy medium saucepan. Add the stock and cook over high heat until reduced by a third, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley. Spoon some of the sauce over the hens and pass the remaining sauce.

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