This recipe comes from the article The Nourishing Traditions of Morocco published in our Wise Traditions journal in the fall of 2020.
- 5 Cornish hens
- Unrefined sea salt (such as Eden or Celtic Sea Salt)
- “Bouquet garni” of mixed dried herbs
- Pinch of saffron for each hen (optional)
- 2 onions, peeled and minced
- 2 tablespoons organic, cold-pressed, unfiltered, extra-virgin olive oil
- Garlic to taste, no more than 1/2 head (optional)
- 2 oranges (one peeled and juiced, one peeled and quartered)
- 1-3 tablespoons honey, preferably local (to taste)
- 2 cups meat juice from roasting the Cornish hens (or whatever quantity you garner)
- 1/3 to 1/2 cup of Cointreau or orange liqueur (to taste)
- 1 or more tablespoons organic kuzu root starch, or 3 tablespoons flour*
- 1 cup crispy almonds**
- A few whole almonds and parsley or mint leaves for garnish
- Preheat oven to 400° F.
- Wash the Cornish hens in filtered (not tap) water.***
- Sprinkle salt, pepper, turmeric, saffron and herbs all over the hens and inside their cavity as well (to taste). Place them in a baking or roasting pan.
- Roast the hens in the preheated oven until cooked but still tender. I keep them covered, only taking the lid off to brown the skin for the last five to ten minutes. Reserve two cups of the drippings for the sauce.
- In a skillet, sauté the minced onions and optional garlic in oil. Keep in skillet and set aside.
- Scrub the skin of an orange in filtered water with a vegetable brush. Squeeze the orange to get its juice and refrigerate the juice.
- Peel off the skin of the same orange. Boil in filtered water for a few minutes to get rid of its bitterness. Drain water and dry the skin with a dish towel. Allow to cool for a moment.
- In a food processor, reduce the orange peel to a paste. Add the honey (I recommend adding only 1 tablespoon), the roasting juices from the hens, the orange liqueur and salt and pepper and blend in the food processor. Add food processor contents to the sautéed onions and garlic in the skillet. Leave unheated while you prepare the kuzu.
- In a small bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon kuzu root starch (or flour) in 2 tablespoons of the fresh-squeezed orange juice. Stir until the starch is completely dissolved.
- Heat the skillet contents to a low/medium temperature. Stir in the kuzu root mixture, stirring constantly. Cook the sauce for a few minutes until it thickens. Add additional starch as needed to thicken, keeping the 1:2 ratio of kuzu to orange juice (tablespoons or teaspoons) each time you add to the sauce. If there is extra orange juice at the end of the process, you can add it to the sauce if you don’t think it will change the desired thickness. If you prefer a smooth sauce, blend it with a hand-held blender in the skillet or in a glass blender. (I don’t recommend putting hot food items into the plastic food processor.)
- Coat the roasted Cornish hens with sauce. Sprinkle ground almonds on top and surround with the peeled and quartered orange. Put back in the oven to warm. Decorate with parsley or mint leaves and serve.
* Kuzu root starch is a versatile, superior thickener that doesn’t separate after cooking like other starches. Kuzu is valued for soothing the stomach and strengthening the intestine.
** To make crispy almonds, soak 4 cups almonds in filtered water with 1 tablespoon sea salt and leave in a warm place for seven hours or overnight. Drain in a colander, spread on a stainless-steel baking pan and place in a warm oven (no more than 150 degrees) for 12 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally until completely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.
*** Thomas Cowan, MD advises using non-fluoridated water for all internal consumption. The best water is deep well water or clean spring or mineral water.