Recipe: Mojo-Marinated Cornish Hens

Serves 4 to 6

Michelle notes: “Plan in advance for the long marinating time (12 to 24 hours); it tenderizes as well as flavors the birds.” She adds that you can substitute turkey for the hens. “Marinate a 15-pound turkey in the mojo for 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator, then roast it according to your favorite method: I start the bird at 325ºF and roast for 4 hours, then raise the heat to 425º during the final 40 minutes of cooking.”


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup thinly sliced garlic (about 2 heads)
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced jalapeño chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • Generous pinch ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (leaves and stems)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4 Cornish hens, about 1¼ pounds each
  • Passover stuffing of your choice


  1. Heat the oil in a medium heavy skillet over medium-low heat until almost smoking. Add the garlic and cook, shaking the pan, until the garlic begins to turn golden, about 6 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add the jalapeño, chile powder, cumin, cilantro, lime juice and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. This is your mojo. Stir the mojo well, then transfer 1/2 cup to a container; cover and refrigerate it. Put the remaining mojo in a large bowl and let cool to room temperature. 
  2. Put each hen in a large zipper-lock plastic bag and divide the mojo among the bags. Seal the bags, pressing out any excess air. Marinate the hens in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours.
  3. Let the hens stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Meanwhile, prepare stuffing. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Remove the hens from the marinade, letting the excess drip back into the bags, and transfer them to a large platter. Pat the hens dry with paper towels.
  4. When the stuffing is completely cool, stuff each hen with one-quarter of the stuffing. Seal each cavity with a skewer and season the hens lightly with salt. Place the hens on a rack in a roasting pan and roast, basting 4 or 5 times, until they are golden brown and the juices run clear when pierced at the thigh joint, about 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, put the reserved 1/2 cup mojo in a small heavy saucepan and reheat gently over low heat.
  5. Remove the hens from the oven and remove the skewers. Let rest for 10 minutes. To serve four, set 1 hen on each of four plates. To serve six, carve the hens and divide the pieces among the plates. Spoon the mojo over and around the hens.