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Cornish Hens with Oranges & Onions

Poultry has an affinity for fruity flavors, as shown in this simple recipe for small Cornish hens. It’s a great, easy dish to serve to company because the individual hens make an elegant presentation.

Ingredients:

  • 4 oranges
  • 4 Cornish hens, each about 1 1/2 lb.
  • 4 garlic cloves, halved
  • Extra-virgin olive oil as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 4 sweet onions, thinly sliced

Directions:

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from 1 of the oranges in 1/2-inch strips. Reserve the orange. Pat the hens dry. Place the zest strips and garlic in the cavities of the Cornish hens, dividing evenly. Brush the hens with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 3 hours. Remove the hens from the refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.

Preheat an oven to 425°F.

Working with one orange at a time, cut a thin slice from the top and bottom of the fruit to expose the flesh. Stand the orange on a flat end and, following the contour of the fruit, cut away the peel and white pith all around the fruit. Working over a bowl, make a cut on both sides of each segment to free it from the membrane, letting the segment and juice drop into the bowl. Coarsely chop the orange segments.

Add the onions and 1 1/2 Tbs. olive oil to the bowl with the orange pieces and stir to combine. Pour the onion-orange mixture into a baking dish just large enough to hold the hens and spread out evenly. Place the hens, breast side up, on top of the onion-orange mixture. Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the hen, away from the bone, registers 160°F, 50 to 60 minutes.

Transfer the hens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes. Divide the onion-orange mixture evenly among warmed individual plates, top each with a hen and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Chicken for Dinner (Weldon Owen, 2009).