Make the paste and marinade the day before; marinate the hens the day of the party.
4 large oranges, sliced
2 cups whole pitted dates (about 8 ounces)
4 (1 1/2-pound) Cornish hens
2 cups cilantro sprigs
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
12 garlic cloves
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed olives
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dry Marsala
1/4 cup honey
How to Make It
Arrange orange slices in 2 (13 x 9-inch) baking dishes, and sprinkle evenly with dates.
Remove and discard giblets and necks from hens. Rinse hens with cold water; pat dry. Remove skin, and trim excess fat. Split hens in half lengthwise. Place hen halves, meaty side up, on top of dates.
Prepare paste: Place cilantro in a food processor; pulse 4 times or until coarsely chopped. Add cardamom, cumin, coriander, and garlic, and process until finely chopped. Pat cilantro mixture onto hens; arrange olives around hens.
Prepare marinade: Combine vinegar, wine, and honey; stir well with a whisk until well-blended. Place in refrigerator for up to two days, if desired.
Slowly pour marinade over hens. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 2 to 24 hours, basting once with the vinegar mixture.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Uncover hens, and bake at 350° for 1 hour and 25 minutes or until juices run clear, basting occassionally with the vinegar mixture. Shield wings with foil, if needed.
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my husband has gone to this recipe for our new year's day meal for nearly 10 years! he doesn't alter the recipe at all. i'm sure part of the reason we love it so well is the anticipation of a once-yearly dish!
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