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Moroccan Cornish Hens

Photo: Howard L. Puckett; Styling: Cathy Muir
Yield 8 servings
Make the paste and marinade the day before; marinate the hens the day of the party.

Ingredients

  • 4 large oranges, sliced
  • 2 cups whole pitted dates (about 8 ounces)
  • 4 (1 1/2-pound) Cornish hens
  • Paste:
  • 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
  • Marinade:
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry Marsala
  • 1/4 cup honey

Nutrition Information

  • calories 412
  • caloriesfromfat 23 %
  • fat 10.5 g
  • satfat 2.7 g
  • monofat 4.3 g
  • polyfat 2.1 g
  • protein 35.5 g
  • carbohydrate 46.9 g
  • fiber 8.3 g
  • cholesterol 101 mg
  • iron 3.5 mg
  • sodium 1198 mg
  • calcium 111 mg

How to Make It

  1. Arrange orange slices in 2 (13 x 9-inch) baking dishes, and sprinkle evenly with dates.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. Slowly pour marinade over hens. Cover and marinate in refrigerator 2 to 24 hours, basting once with the vinegar mixture.

  6. Preheat oven to 350°.

  7. 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.