118 – Stuffed Cornish Hens with Caramelized Pumpkin

The fall season is back and it is one of my favorite times of the year. I really enjoy the ingredients that are available, especially Pumpkin!
In Morocco, we make a salad of caramelized pumpkins and walnuts, so I decided to stuff cornish hens with the caramelized pumpkin, cook then in a tajine style, then broil them just before serving. This recipe is heavenly and is perfect for you fall menu!

Ingredients

  • Stuffing: 4 pounds of pumpkin (weighted with the skin)
  • Stuffing: 2 cups of walnuts
  • Stuffing: 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • Stuffing: 2 tablespoons of honey
  • Stuffing: 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Stuffing: 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • Stuffing: 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon powder
  • Stuffing: a pinch of saffron
  • Stuffing: 3 tablespoons of butter
  • Chicken: 2 cornish hens (2-3 pounds each)
  • Chicken: 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • Chicken: 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • Chicken: 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
  • Chicken: 1 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • Chicken: 2 teaspoons of salt
  • Chicken: 1/2 teaspoon of pepper
  • Chicken: a large pinch of saffron
  • Tajine: 1 large onion, grated
  • Tajine: a small bunch of cilantro
  • Tajine: 1/2 – 1 cup of water
  • Tajine; 1/2 teaspoon of ginger powder
  • Tajine: 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Tajine: 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • Tajine: a cinnamon stick

Directions

Marinating the Chicken:
1- Mix all the spices with the vegetable oil and lemon juice.
2- Rub the chicken with the spice mix.
3- Cover the bowl containing the chicken with a plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge while preparing the pumpkin stuffing.

Preparing the pumpkin stuffing:
1- Remove the seeds from the pumpkin.
2- Place the pumpkin on a microwavable place, cover with a plastic wrap, and microwave for 15 minutes or until it becomes soft.
Note: if you dont have a microwave, you can cut the pumpkin into chunks and cook them in boiling water.
3- Remove the skin of the pumpkin, and cut the pumpkin pulp into chunks.
4- On medium heat, melt the butter in a flat pan. Add the pumpkin.
5- Cook the pumpkin for 30 minutes, while stirring from time to time and mashing it with a fork until you get a puree.
6- After 30 minutes, add the spices, sugar, and honey to the pumpkin.
7- Let the pumpkin cook for another 20-30 minutes until the mixture becomes dry. Once dry, taste the pumpkin filling and adjust the spices accordingly.
8- Chop the walnuts.
9- Mix the walnuts and the pumpkin puree together.
10- Divide the pumpkin filling into 2 bowls: one that will be used for decoration, and the other to stuff the chicken.
Note: be careful, when using a utensil that touched meat or raw poultry (in this case the pumpkin filling), do not then eat the filling as it could be contaminated. This is why we separate the pumpkin filling at this point.

Stuffing the Chicken:
1- Stuff the hens with the pumpkin filling.
2- Use toothpicks and a cord to lace the hens (check out the video).

Cooking the Chicken – Tajine Style:
1- On medium heat, add the stuffed hens, grated onion and cilantro to your cooking pan. Cover your pan and let them cook for 10 minutes.
2- After 10 minutes, add 1/2 cup of water. Cover your pan and let the chicken cook.
3- While the chicken is cooking, stir it from time to time, also flip the chicken on different sides to ensure uniform cooking, and check out the level of water and add as necessary. Keep doing this until the chicken is fully cooked (it would take around 45 minutes).

Broil the Chicken and Serve:
1- Once the hens are cooked, remove them from the cooking pan and place them on a baking dish.
2- Broil the hens in the oven for 5 minutes.
3- Increase the heat on the sauce where the chicken cooked, and let it cook for few minutes so that it thickens.
4- To serve the hens, place them in a dish, cover them with the sauce, add the pumpkin mixture around the hens, and decorate with walnut. Serve immediately.