Impress your guests with stuffed Cornish hens filled with spiced lamb and fluffy rice. Each bite is a heavenly combination of savory flavors and textures that will leave them raving.
Indulge in a delightful culinary experience with our Roasted Cornish Hens with Rice Hashwa recipe. This elegant dish, a favorite from my mom’s kitchen, is perfect for special occasions or when guests come over. Cornish hens, tender and delicate, take center stage alongside classic Middle Eastern accompaniments like yogurt cucumber salad, Salata Arabia, and Fattouch Salad.
In the Middle East, this dish is known as Farooj mahshi, traditionally prepared with stuffed Cornish hens. In our version, we offer a twist by preparing the traditional Middle Eastern stuffing separately. It features a delightful blend of ground lamb, toasted nuts, and fresh peas.
Cornish hens have a distinct advantage in that they require significantly less cooking time compared to regular chickens, nearly half as long. This not only makes this meal convenient but also expedites the preparation process. For that flawless finishing touch, in the final five minutes of cooking, we delicately brush these hens with ghee, imparting a luscious caramelized hue and achieving an irresistibly crispy skin.
What is a Cornish Hen?
A Cornish hen is a small chicken originating from Cornwall in England. Although they are also known as Cornish game hens, they are not game birds. Instead, they are farmed like regular chickens. Because of this, they have a relatively mild and delicate flavor and do not taste gamey.
Cornish hens are a mix of two chicken breeds: Indian game chicken and White Plymouth Rock. These two breeds are both full-sized chickens that are commonly eaten.
Even though Cornish hens are delicious and the perfect size, they are unfortunately highly underrated. They can mature to become full-sized chickens but tend to be eaten younger than regular chickens, making them smaller. A typical Cornish hen only weighs about two pounds. Their small sizes usually mean one or two people can eat an entire hen alone.
Where Can I Buy Cornish Hen
You can readily find fresh Cornish hens in high-end markets; however, they do come with a slightly higher price tag. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, frozen Cornish hens are widely available at traditional markets. To prepare frozen Cornish hens for cooking, simply transfer them to the refrigerator for a day or two until they have completely defrosted.
For The Roasted Cornish Hens
The Cornish hens are seasoned with a blend of flavors, including sweet paprika, baharat, and other spices, creating a harmonious Middle Eastern-inspired profile.
To Prepare The Cornish Hens
The hens are first washed and dried before being marinated with olive oil, lemon juice, and the spice mixture, ensuring the flavors penetrate both the inside and outside of the hens.
Tying the legs together helps maintain the shape of the hens while cooking.
The hens are marinated for an hour, allowing the flavors to meld.
The roasted Cornish hens undergo a two-step cooking process for optimum results. First, they are gently cooked while covered for a duration of 30 minutes. Subsequently, they are uncovered and placed under the broiler for an additional 15 minutes. This broiling stage is crucial as it imparts a beautiful caramelized color and ensures the skin becomes irresistibly crispy.The recommended internal temperature for the hens is 165°F .
For The Rice Stuffing
The rice stuffing is rich and flavorful, featuring a combination of ground lamb and beef, peas, and a mix of aromatic spices, including cumin, cardamom, Aleppo pepper, cinnamon, and baharat.
This dish is typically presented on a large platter, with the fluffed-up rice forming the base and the Cornish hens arranged all around. Toasted pine nuts and slivered almonds are sprinkled over the hens and rice, providing a delightful toasted and nutty flavor.To enhance the presentation, consider garnishing with fresh herbs like parsley or mint.
Side Dish Suggestions with Roasted Cornish Hen
For a well-rounded meal, consider these delectable side dishes to complement the Cornish hen with rice stuffing:
- Yogurt Sauce: A creamy and tangy yogurt sauce provides a delightful contrast to the rich flavors of the Cornish hen and rice stuffing. Its coolness balances the dish’s warmth.
- Salata Arabia (Arab Salad): This vibrant salad bursts with fresh flavors and crunchy textures, offering a refreshing accompaniment to the savory Cornish hen. Its zesty dressing adds a delightful twist to each bite.
- Middle Eastern Salads: Explore a variety of Middle Eastern salads, such as tabbouleh, fattoush.
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