Blog Post

Cornish Game Hen with Cherries and Harissa

I experimented in the pizza oven last week and the outcome is this delicious recipe that uses an unusual combination of red cherries and Harissa (the Tunisian hot chili sauce I am now totally addicted to).

Since a Cornish game hen is half the size of a standard chicken and weighs an average of 1¼ pounds, it is a perfect individual portion.

(Serves 4)

For Cornish Hens:

• 4 1¼ pounds Cornish hens
• 16 red cherries, pitted, cut in half
• 4 scallions, thinly sliced
• ½ bunch Italian parsley, chopped
• 2 teaspoons Harissa paste
• Coarse sea salt to taste


For Garnish:

• 2 red bell peppers, sliced
• 20 red cherries, pitted, cut in half
• 1 small white onion, sliced
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 2 teaspoons white balsamic vinegar
• Coarse sea salt to taste

Start the fire in your pizza oven. To learn how click here

Using a pair of kitchen shears remove the backbone from each hen, then open hens and lay flat, skin-side up. Tuck the chopped parsley, scallions, and salt under skin of breasts and thighs. Dip the cherries you cut in half in the Harissa paste and tuck under skin of breast and thighs. Place the hens on two metal trays, skin side up. Sprinkle some salt to taste.

Combine the garnish ingredients and place in a 10” cast iron skillet.

When the fire you lit has been reduced to big embers, move it to the right or left side of the oven. Check the temperature and when it registers between 500 ° and 450 ° add one small split piece of hardwood to the coals (I like to use a log stand because it aerates the fire very nicely).
It’s time to slide in the hens in the oven. Once you found the perfect spot for the hens, slide the cast iron skillet keeping it close by the oven opening so that you can stir often.

The garnish will be done in about 10 to 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and check the hens, turning the metal pans so that the hens brown on the other side. After another 10 minutes, turn the hens upside down and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Then turn again and cook until they are nice golden brown and a meat thermometer inserted into the breast meat registers 160 0.

Remove from oven. Let rest for 10 minutes, then add the garnish sauce and enjoy!

Need a log stand for your pizza oven? Buy it here.

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