“Stuffing poultry with a mixture of grains, dried fruit, and nuts is very common in Middle Eastern cuisine. At the same time, I’m a sucker for a sticky-sweet barbecue sauce on poultry. That’s my jam! The combination of honey and tart-salty preserved lemon works really well with the meaty poussin. It’s like Levantine tradition meets American tradition.”

December 2018


Credit: Christopher Testani

Recipe Summary

3 hrs 10 mins
35 mins


Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper in a large bowl. Sprinkle poussins evenly with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Add poussins to marinade, turning to coat and rubbing marinade all over birds, inside and out. Cover and chill 2 hours.

  • About 1 hour before roasting the birds, make the stuffing: Stir together bulgur, apricots, cranberries, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring 3/4 cup broth to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high. Pour hot broth over bulgur mixture. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour. Fluff with a fork. (The bulgur should still have a little tooth to it. It will finish cooking inside the poussins.) Add pistachios, walnuts, and parsley; stir to combine.

  • Preheat oven to 500°F. Remove poussins from marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Discard marinade. Stuff poussins evenly with bulgur mixture (about 1/2 cup each). Loosely tie legs together with kitchen twine, and tuck wing tips under. Place poussins on a wire rack set inside a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.

  • Roast in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 350°F without opening oven door, and roast until poussins are golden brown, juices run clear when poussin is pierced with a knife, and stuffing temperature registers 160°F, 25 to 30 minutes.

  • Transfer poussins to a platter or tray; cover to keep warm. Remove wire rack from pan. Pour remaining 1/2 cup broth into pan with poussin drippings; stir and scrape bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Pour broth mixture into a small saucepan. Add honey and saffron, and bring to a simmer over medium-low, stirring often. Add preserved lemon peel, and simmer until syrupy, 5 to 8 minutes.

  • To serve, divide poussins among 4 plates. If serving Cornish hens, spoon about 1/2 cup stuffing onto each of 4 plates. Cut Cornish hens in half; divide among plates. Spoon lemon-honey glaze over birds, and garnish with mint and basil.

Suggested Pairing

Herby, peppery Lebanese red.