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.

Related Posts

Happy New Pizza!

We started the year stumbling upon a great pizza... Peter wanted to try a

Looking Back, Looking Forward

A heartfelt thank you to all our friends and customers who share our passion

Getting Ready…One, Two, Three, Testing

Thanksgiving is around the corner and if you are planning to bake your holiday

Build a Good Fire

  Even in California the fall is showing off its first chill and some rain.

After the Fires… a Good Fire.

All our outdoor activity stopped for a long week as heat and forest fires

A Summer Birthday

Our friend Mike had his birthday party over the weekend and we brought one

Pomodori al Forno

It is so much fun to harvest in the garden early on a summer

Wood-Fired Goodness

Tomorrow is the 4th of July and there's going to be a whole lot

Life is Sweet

We've had such a spell of wonderful weather here in Los Angeles... the cool

Spring Around “Il Forno”

As spring vegetables make their appearance here in California, I get excited about fennel.


In Italy I got accustomed to good, organic produce and it is a vital

For the Love of Pizza!

At home, my husband Peter is the pizza maker, or as they say in

Two Words for 2009: Buon Appetito!

The Italian in me has the same attitude come good or bad times: let's

Christmas Around the Oven

In California we can pretty much entertain outdoors almost all year round and I

Chestnuts and Mushrooms

Fall is the season for harvesting and storing, for bundling up and sitting around

In the Beginning…

My fascination with wood fired ovens began in Italy.In the early seventies my parents