Rock Cornish Game Hens in Escabeche Recipe

Rock Cornish Game Hens in Escabeche

A variation of Guatlles amb Vinagreta, a traditional Catalan recipe made with quails. In the US quails are hard to come by outside the megacities. I use Rock Cornish game hens, also known as Cornish game hens. Despite the “game” in its name, it is a cross between the Cornish and White Plymouth Rock hen, a broiler chicken. They are available in most well-stocked supermarkets and each hen ways about 1 lb (400-500 g).

Escabeche is an age-old technique in the Mediterranean and Latin American cuisines used to preserve food. Fish, mussels, poultry, or game are poached or fried in olive oil. Then they are marinated for at least 24 hours in garlic, herbs, and vinegar or lemon juice and served at room temperature.

Portuguese Punched Down Potatoes or simply a crusty bread with a glass of wine is a good accompaniment.

Yield: 4 servings

Time: 60 minutes plus 24 hours marinating


  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Rock Cornish game hens, split in half lenghtwise
  • flour for dusting
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 carrot finely diced
  • 2 cups (150 g) mushrooms sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 6 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) dry white wine
  • 4 Tbsp sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 (125 ml) cup water
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 scallions
  • 2 Tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Season the Rock Cornish game hens, cut in half lengthwise, with salt and pepper. Dust with flour and shake off the excess. Set aside. Heat 3 tablespoons. of olive oil over medium-high heat and sauté them for 10-15 minutes or until nicely brown on all sides. Remove from the pan and reserve. Scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and add them to the birds.

Clean the pan with a towel paper and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and sauté carrots, onions, mushrooms, and garlic for 10 minutes or when they begin to soften. Add the cloves, bay leaf, lemon zest, salt, and pepper. Return the Rock Cornish game hens skin side down to the pan and arrange them nicely so that they are snuggly side by side. Add the wine, bring it to a quick boil for about 2-3 minutes. Add vinegar and water and bring it to a rapid boil. Simmer over low heat for 30-40 minutes, taste for salt and pepper. Turn quails or Cornish hens on the other side and cook for 10 minutes longer. Add the scallions. Remove the dish from the heat and let it marinate overnight in a cool place or the refrigerator.

Baste it occasionally with the wine-vinegar marinade.

Before serving warm the dish to room temperature and sprinkle it with the chopped parsley.

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