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Couscous-Stuffed Moroccan Cornish Hens

Serves 4 to 6
Time 2 hr 15 min
In this traditional Moroccan dish for pigeon, we substitute Cornish hens. Served with a honey wine sauce, this is an ideal dish for impressing family and friends. Use plain prepared couscous instead of Apricot Couscous to stuff the hens, if you like.
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 fine sea salt, divided
  • 4 Cornish hens
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 batch Apricot Couscous
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Honey, to taste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 4 lemon slices
Method

Put paprika, cumin, sugar, coriander, fennel seeds, chile flakes, cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, and 1/4 teaspoon salt into a bowl and stir together to make a spice rub.

Massage the spice rub into the hens, inside and out. 

Cut small slits into each breast and the place where the thighs join the breasts of each hen. 

Insert garlic slices into these slits. 

Drizzle hens all over with oil and lemon juice, then transfer to a roasting pan, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour, or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. 

Fill hens' cavities with the prepared Apricot Couscous, adding any leftover couscous to the roasting pan. 

Bake until just beginning to brown, about 15 minutes, then drizzle with wine and return to oven.

Baste again with the liquid in the roasting pan after 15 minutes, then bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the juice of the birds runs yellow when a knife tip is inserted in the thigh joint. 

Tent hens with foil and set aside to let rest for 10 minutes.

While hens are resting, pour excess drippings from the roasting pan into a small bowl and place in the freezer for 10 minutes or until the fat rises to the top. 

Skim off and discard the fat from the top and place the remaining drippings into a small pot. 

Bring to a simmer and cook until reduced to about 1 cup. Stir in butter, honey and cinnamon and simmer for about 5 minutes. 

Season with salt to taste and discard cinnamon stick.

Cut hens in half and arrange them on a serving platter.

Spoon the warm sauce over the hens and garnish with cilantro sprigs and lemon slices.

Note: We've provided special diet and nutritional information for educational purposes. But remember - we're cooks, not doctors! You should follow the advice of your health-care provider. And since product formulations change, check product labels for the most recent ingredient information.
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  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 fine sea salt, divided
  • 4 Cornish hens
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 batch Apricot Couscous
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • Honey, to taste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 4 lemon slices