The tastiest Cornish hens are as near as possible to 1.25 pounds each. Larger birds seem less flavorful.


Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut the birds in half, removing the backbones and the wing tips. Make sure the insides are free of any excess fat and bits of kidney. Rinse and dry with paper towels.

Melt butter in flat baking dish large enough to hold the bird halves in one layer. Add bird halves and turn around in the butter until they are well coated. Season cavities with 3/8 teaspoon salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds, and fill with the crushed garlic and chopped onion. Turn birds over so the skin side is up, and the garlic and onion are tucked underneath. Sprinkle with remaining 3/8 teaspoon salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds. Bake in oven for 1 hour.

Serve on brown rice with 1/8 cup toasted pine nuts stirred in, and juices poured over.

Serves 3

Nichola Collins

The result is vaguely North African tasting.