Sweet, Spiced Cornish Hen with Macerated Prunes, Olives, and Lemon, served with Jeweled Couscous

Created by culinary expert, Chef Rodney Bowers, this recipe is the perfect blend of rich, fragrant flavours that will certainly impress your guests this holiday season. This dish is seamlessly elevated with the California Prunes that complement the meal by bringing a natural sweetness and earthy-chewy texture.


  • 2 Tbsp coriander seed
  • 2 Tbsp fennel seed
  • 1 Tbsp anise seed
  • 1 Tbsp fenugreek
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cornish Hens
  • Salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup California Prunes
  • 1/4 cup Cerignola olives
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed oil
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • ½ lemon, squeezed
  • ¼ Cup sherry

Lemon Vinaigrette 

  • 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 3 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Add salt and pepper to taste

Jeweled Couscous

  • 2 cups vegetable stock (or water is fine if you prefer)
  • 1-1/2 cups couscous
  • 8-10 California Prunes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole, shelled pistachios
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp mint, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp coriander, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp chives, chopped


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 425°F.
  2. In a small pan, over medium heat, toast coriander, fennel, anise and fenugreek seeds for about two minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer the seeds to a coffee grinder and finely grind. Transfer to a small bowl and add cinnamon, paprika, and olive oil. Set aside.
  3. Split the Cornish hens each in half lengthwise (or de-boning is optional – ask your Butcher to do so). Rub the spice mixture liberally over the hens. Place hens in the fridge to marinate for a minimum of two hours or overnight for deeper flavours.
  4. In a large, ovenproof skillet, over medium-high heat, add the grapeseed oil. Season the hens with salt and add them each to the pan, browning the skin for about two minutes.
  5. Place the whole skillet in a preheated oven at 425°F, and roast for approximately 15-minutes (or until juices from the thigh run clear when it is pierced or until internal temperature reached 165°F.) Remove the birds and cover with foil.  Rest for 5 minutes *Chef’s notes: While hens are cooking, prepare lemon vinaigrette and couscous.
  6. Pour any excess oil from the skillet and return to stove top, over medium-high heat. Deglaze the pan with sherry. Allow the liquid to reduce by half, adding in the olives and prunes. Finally add a knob of butter and a squeeze of lemon.
  7. Serve Cornish Hens family style over couscous (see recipe below) and top with macerated prunes, olives, and lemon glaze to liking.

Lemon Vinaigrette

  1. Add all ingredients to a small bowl and whisk ingredients together until emulsified. Set aside for couscous.

Jeweled Couscous

  1. Add couscous to a medium-sized, glass or ceramic bowl.
  2. In a medium-sized pot, over high heat, bring stock to a boil and pour over couscous. Cover with cling film and let stand for about 10 minutes.
  3. Prepare the rest of your ingredients – herbs, prunes, nuts, and vinaigrette.
  4. Fluff the couscous with a fork and fold in the remaining ingredients.
  5. Add 70 mL of lemon vinaigrette, toss through with a fork, and serve family-style with Cornish hens layered on top.


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