Cornish Hens (Le Petite Poulet) with Preserved Lemons and Orange Blossom Water Recipe

Cornish Hens (Le Petite Poulet) with Preserved Lemons and Orange Blossom Water Recipe
Staff Writer
Cornish Hens (Le Petite Poulet) with Preserved Lemons and Orange Blossom Water  Recipe

 In planning this party menu, I wanted something pleasing to both children and adults, super easy and inspired by my mother's pre-revolution trip to Libya and post revolution trip to Egypt!

I made Cornish Game Hen (Le Petite Poulet) with Preserved Lemons and Orange Blossom Water using local and sustainable hens from Epicurian Farms --  fragrant, tender, delicious.

I served dinner with homemade mint tea, Sauvignon Blanc, Mediterranean chopped salad, toasted pita bread and hummus, grape leaves, Moroccan olives and couscous. I added raisins to the couscous water before cooking and tossed a handful of toasted almonds after the couscous was cooked.

The only thing missing from this Arabian feast was the belly dancers!


2 - 2 1/2 pound Cornish game hens
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of saffron
2 Tablespoons of orange flower water
2 Tablespoons of ground cumin
1 Tablespoon of orange rind (fresh or dried)
1 cinnamon stick
1 preserved lemon sliced into wedges (store bought or homemade*)
3 cups of low fat chicken broth, preferably homemade stock
Garnish: slices of orange and parsley


Clean and dry hens and cut in half down the middle. Prepare onions and garlic. Place spices into a small bowl or ramekin (saffron, orange flower water, cumin, orange rind, cinnnamon). Cut preserved lemon into 8 wedges.

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or pressure cooker. Saute onions and garlic until translucent. Brown the Cornish game hens. Add the spice mixture, preserved lemon and chicken broth to the pot. Cover and cook for about 1 hour and 15 minutes over medium heat until the meat is falling off the bone (I used a pressure cooker on high for 11 minutes). Remove birds and set aside. Strain the braising liquid and reserve.

Return the strained liquid and hens to a pot and reheat when ready to serve. Serve with plain or seasoned couscous. Garnish with oranges and parsley to add color.

Cornish Hen Shopping Tip

When working with poultry, buy a separate cutting board, preferably a dishwasher-safe, plastic one, to avoid spreading bacteria onto raw produce.

Cornish Hen Cooking Tip

Allow meat to rest for at least ten minutes before slicing into it; otherwise, the juices will leak out.

Cornish Hen Wine Pairing

Pinot noir, gamay, merlot, zinfandel, carménère, pinotage, or grenache with grilled, roasted, or other simply cooked chicken; chardonnay, pinot gris/grigio, pinot blanc, or chenin blanc with chicken in cream or light tomato sauce or with chicken crêpes or croquettes; sauvignon blanc or sémillon with fried chicken; viognier with spiced chicken dishes.