Friday, April 1, 2011

Ruby Glazed Cornish Hens on warm spinach salad

Happy April Fool's Day everyone!

Our blog guest this past Sunday was Libby Fischer Hellman. She talked about her new book, SET THE NIGHT ON FIRE and gave us a great recipe for Chicken Marsala.

In her post, she also talked about another recipe, and since then she's gotten so many requests for it that we thought it might be a good idea to post it here this week. So, what follows is Libby's recipe for Cornish hens.

Now... in order to include photos, I actually prepared this for my post this week. One problem: I didn't have Cornish hens. But I did have some recently defrosted chicken. Why not substitute, right? What's a recipe without a little improvisation?

As fabulous as this recipe was, I'm sure it would be even more wonderful with real Cornish hens. Enjoy!

Link to a PDF of the recipe: Ruby

Ruby-Glazed Cornish hens on warm spinach salad

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Yield: 6 servings

Cornish Hens:

3 large Cornish hens, thawed

salt, freshly ground pepper

½ cup currant jam or jelly

1/3 cup cranberry juice cocktail

2 TBs Dijon mustard


8 cups young spinach leaves (stems trimmed), rinsed, chilled

4 slices lean bacon cut into small dice

3 TBS canola oil

1 ½ TBS each: red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar

½ TB water

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 ½ tsps sugar

½ cup cranberry juice cocktail

2 TBS dried cranberries

4 thin slices red onion

Put a rack in lower third of over, set oven at 400 degrees. Line a shallow roasting pan (big enough to hold hens in a single layer) with tin foil. Set aside.

Split the hens in half. Cut out the backbone from each half using kitchen shears. Rinse hens well and blot dry with paper towels. Generously season hens with salt and pepper. Place skin side up in prepared pan. Mix jam, cranberry juice, mustard, ¼ tsp salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl.

Roast hens 30 minutes. Brush on glaze. Bake until deeply colored and juices run clear, about 25 minutes longer, brushing glaze once more half way through the cooking. Remove hens from oven. Brush on any remaining glaze. Let rest 10 minutes, loosely tented with foil.

For salad, put spinach leaves in large bowl. Keep chilled until ready to use.

Cook bacon in 8-inch non stick skillet over medium high heat until well-browned and crisp, about 3 minutes, stirring often. Use slotted spoon to transfer bacon to paper towels. Spill off and discard any excess bacon fat from pan but do not wipe it out.

Add remaining infredients and ½ tsp salt to pan (except onions and a few dried cranberries to use as a garnish). Stir until well-mixed. Simmer 1 minute. Can be made several hours ahead to this point and kept at room temperature or refrigerated overnight.

To serve, heat dressing in pan over medium heat. When hot, add onion slices, separating slices into rings. Remove from heat. Pour hot dressing over spinach. Toss well to coat spinach with dressing. Adjust seasoning. Divide salad between 6 plates, arranging a few onions and cranberries over surface. Sprinkle bacon over, dividing evenly. Place hens on warm spinach salad. Serve immediately.

I have to tell you, this was *delicious*!
Really wonderful.
It takes a little bit of work, but it's fabulous!

Hope you enjoy!



  1. Pairing cranberries and poultry is a wonderful idea, and I'm a big fan of those little Cornish hens. Thank you for sharing Libby's recipe, Julie. I'm glad to know it works well with regular chicken, too. (Gorgeous photo! :))

    ~ Cleo Coffeehouse
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  2. Mmm--cranberries. This is a truly beautiful dish, Julie! It does look like some work, but definitely a huge payoff in the end. :)

  3. Oh wow, I'm sure this is delicious with both the defrosted chicken and the cornish hens! Can't wait to try it out!

  4. Julie, it's so beautiful. I'm glad you took a picture. Yummy!


  5. I have to admit, I'm not usually a fan of pairing fruit with protein, but this was a truly wonderful combination. The spinach salad disappeared completely. I'd made enough for six and there were only four of us at dinner. I did have to adjust the timing because the chicken thighs were smaller than Cornish hens would be, but the timing wasn't that far off. Anyway, enjoy. We really did.

  6. I never thought of substituting chicken, Julie. Brilliant! And it looks beautiful... I can't believe you made the whole thing...:)

  7. Totally worth the effort, Libby. Thanks for sharing this one. My family wants me to make it again, soon!

  8. I'm definitely making this A.S.A.P. Mouthwatering picture, Julie! Thanks so much for passing it on from Libby!

  9. Lynn - my pleasure. Hope you enjoy. I'm sure you will!

  10. This looks wonderful! I love currants. Just up my alley!

    ~ Krista

  11. I love Cornish hens and this will br a wonderful dish to try. Thanks for sharing it!