Roasted Game Hens with Preserved Lemon, Chickpeas & Olives
Preserved lemons have the ability to lift a dish from the doldrums with a dash of salty zip. They perform that job ably in this dish. I use only the lemon peel and save the pulp and juice to be squeezed into a vinaigrette. I like to use olive with pits but it’s up to you. Pitted olives are definitely less hazardous. If you don’t have time to make your own preserved lemons, you can find them at specialty grocers.
Serves 4Print this recipe
2 game hens, cut into 4 pieces each
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon finely sliced preserved lemon peel (about 1/4 lemon)
1 large garlic clove, sliced
2 3-inch sprigs fresh oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup assorted black & green olives, Picholine, Moroccan, Nicoise, Lucques
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup chicken stock
1. Place the hens in a large non-reactive bowl or baking dish. Add 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, the preserved lemon, garlic and oregano. Sprinkle with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cover with plastic and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
2. Remove from the refrigerator 20 minutes before roasting. Brush off the herbs, lemon peel and garlic and place in strainer over a bowl to drain off the juices. Discard the juices.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Heat a large 12-inch sauté pan over medium high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and then game hens, skin side down. Cook until the skin is golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Turn over and brown on the other side. Remove to a plate.
5. Add the onions to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until starting to brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the chickpeas, olives, and the reserved lemon peel and garlic and stir for 1 to 2 minutes until heated through. Save the oregano sprigs to place on top.
6. Add the game hens back to the pan, nestling them into the olives and chickpeas, then top with the oregano sprigs. Add the lemon juice and chicken stock and bring to a boil on the stove top. Immediately turn off the heat and place the pan in the preheated oven. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes until pan juices are reduced and the juices from the game hen legs run clear. If the pan juices are in danger of running dry add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to the pan.
7. Remove the pan from the oven and discard the oregano sprigs. Serve the game hens right from the roasting pan, if appropriate, or in a deep-welled dinner plate with the juices, olives and chickpeas spooned over.