Tired of chicken Try a Cornish hen this Friday night

I don’t like fooling around with tradition, especially when it involves a family Shabbat dinner. Although chicken is definitely a Friday night favorite, there are times I like to vary the menu with a succulent, diminutive hybrid of chicken — the Cornish game hens. I find that they are sweeter than chicken, because they are almost all white meat, and they are faster and easier to cook.

I have found Cornish hens are perfect for dinner party entertaining as well as a simple family dinner. They are a relative bargain in the market (one bird serves two), are quick to prepare and are quite adaptable.

The following main dish recipes are wonderful examples of the Cornish hen’s versatility and will bring an element of delighted surprise to your next Shabbat table or any other festive gathering.

Triple Mustard Hen Salad

Serves 6 to 8


1 cup mayonnaise

3 Tbs. sweet-hot mustard

2 Tbs. Dijon mustard

1 Tbs. grainy mustard

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


4-6 cups diced, roasted Cornish hen

4 celery stalks, sliced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 head radicchio lettuce, halved and thinly sliced Romaine lettuce leaves

1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a medium bowl combine mayonnaise with mustards, lemon juice, salt and pepper. In a large bowl combine hen, celery, red pepper and radicchio. Toss with dressing.

On a round or oval platter arrange Romaine leaves in a spoke-like pattern. Mound hen salad in center and sprinkle with parsley.

Grilled Moroccan Cornish Hens

Serves 8

4 Cornish hens, halved salt and pepper


juice of 1 lemon

juice of 1 orange

3 Tbs. chopped parsley

1 Tbs. fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 Tbs. crushed corianderseeds

1 Tbs. crushed cumin seed

1/3 cup olive oil

Rinse hens and pat dry. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Mix marinade ingredients until well blended. Place hens in large Ziploc bag and pour marinade over them. Seal bag and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.

Remove hens from marinade and reserve marinade for basting. Place hens on hot grill, skin side down. Cook, basting with marinade, about 15 minutes. Turn hens over and cook another 15 minutes, basting every so often.

Hens Sautéed with Mushrooms and Onions

Serves 8

2 Tbs. olive oil

4 Cornish hens, quartered

2 shallots, chopped

24 pearl onions, peeled

1 lb. mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

1 cup white wine

2 cups chicken stock salt and pepper

1/4 cup minced parsley

In a large skillet heat oil. Brown hens on all sides. Remove and reserve. Add shallots, pearl onions and mushrooms to skillet and cook until browned. Add garlic and wine to skillet. Bring to a boil and cook until wine is reduced to 1/4 cup. Add stock, bring to a boil and add hens. Cover and simmer about 40 minutes, turning hens once. Remove hens and vegetables from skillet and keep warm. Degrease pan juices and bring pan juices to a boil. Cook until reduced to 1 cup of liquid. Taste for salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over hens and vegetables and serve.

Louise Fiszer is a Palo Alto cooking teacher, author and the co-author of “Jewish Holiday Cooking.” Her columns alternate with those of Rebecca Ets-Hokin. Questions and recipe ideas can be sent to j. or to [email protected].