Moroccan Cornish Game Hens

harissa game hens
Jabberwocky Stew
  • 60 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins,
  • Cook: 45 mins
  • Yield: Serves 4
Ratings (4)

This recipe, adapted from Rob Feenie's Casual Classics, is a fricassee all in one skillet, balancing the spicy heat of harissa paste with sweet and sour dates and apricots.  The game hens cook much quicker than a fryer chicken, so this meal can be easily assembled and cooked on a busy week night.  Serve with rice or couscous.

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 cup pistachio meats (or slivered blanched almonds
  • 2 Cornish game hens
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots (cut in half)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup Italian parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
  • Optional: 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Optional: 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

How to Make It

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread the pistachio meats evenly in a baking sheet and toast in the oven 15 to 20 minutes until fragrant.  Remove the baking sheet from the oven and set aside.
  2. Using a large chef's knife, split the game hens in half length-wise down the backbone.  Cut each half in half cross-wise, so each portion has either one leg or one wing.  Pat the hens dry, and season with salt and pepper.
  1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, and sauté the hen pieces on all sides until golden brown.  Transfer the hen pieces to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the chopped onion to the skillet and sauté until soft and translucent, about 10 minutes, occasionally scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.  Stir in the ginger, harissa, cinnamon and nutmeg, and cook 1 minute.  Stir in 2 cups of hot water, and add the hen pieces to the skillet.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for about 35 minutes, until the hens are fully cooked.  (To test, insert a sharp knife into the hen thighs; if the juice runs clear yellow, the hens are done.)
  3. Transfer the hens to a large plate and tent loosely with aluminum foil.  Increase the heat in the skillet, and stir in the dates, apricots, honey, raisins and parsley.  Simmer on low 15 minutes until the fruits are soft and the pan juices have reduced and thickened slightly.
  4. Return the hen pieces to the skillet, and using a spoon, baste them with the juices, turning and coating the pieces until fully reheated.  Arrange the hens on a platter and sprinkle with the toasted pistachio meats and pomegranate seeds.  If desired, whisk the cumin and lemon juice into the yogurt, and serve on the side.