Joseph “JJ” Johnson, the chef at The Cecil in Manhattan’s Harlem neighborhood, loves how juicy and flavorful Cornish hens can be. Here he seasons them with a West African yassa-style marinade, which includes onion and lemon as well as tamari, herbs and Dijon mustard.
Slideshow:More Chicken Recipes
1 1/2 cups tamari
1 1/2 cups grapeseed or canola oil
1/4 cup mint leaves with stems
1 medium onion, chopped
1 fresh Thai bird chile with stem
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon thyme leaves with stems
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
Four 1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pound Cornish game hens
How to Make It
In a blender or food processor, pulse all of the ingredients except the hens until chunky.
In a large bowl, season the hens with salt. Add the marinade and rub it all over the hens and in the cavities. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 3 hours.
Preheat the oven to 375°. Set a rack over a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange the hens on the rack, leaving some of the marinade in the cavities. Roast for about 1 hour, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thighs registers 165° and the juices run clear. Transfer the hens to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
The marinade can be refrigerated for 3 days.
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