Hibiscus-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens


Have you ever tried hibiscus?… hibiscus is a flower from a tall plant that when dried makes the most fabulous aromatic and vitamin C loaded tea or cold beverage. It is one of my favorite ingredients.
I’m from Mexico and Hibiscus is called “Jamaica” and it is pronounced Ha-my-cah, not to get it confused with the Island. Hibiscus is used in many different preparations, the most common is to prepare “agua fresca”flavored water. Jamaica it is very floral and refreshing, its our natural instant beverage.
It is also used in candy making in Mexico on the Chapala Lake Riviera, in Jalisco. There they make delicious sweet and tart hard candy pieces. If I was to describe the hibiscus flavor, it resembles a little to cranberry. The difference: Hibiscus has this floral notes that makes it so remarkable.

I was thinking of a little spin on Thanksgiving for people who find cranberry too tart so I thought of Jamaica. Then, what to do besides agua fresca and candy? Chutney?.. no… Glaze!

Oh yes I experimented last week glazing some Cornish Hens and it tastes  delicious. My original thought was to glaze some quail, but I look for a good source of quail here in Austin and I was with out luck… so I cooked Cornish Hens…and what a treat!
The results?… Well  you have to try it. It’s floral, tart, sweet and I added a hint of orange zest, and ancho powder to give a little spicy kick….Ian loved it!.. and yes I liked it too.. I definitely want to share the recipe with you, let me know what you think!
Try it with Quail if you or some soul around reading this can find some. I think it will be wonderful and if not it’s great on Cornish Hen! And if you are already a Hibiscus Lover, try our recipe  Martini dos Flores… you will fall in love with it! http://yes-moreplease.com/2013/08/martini-dos-flores/


Hibiscus-Orange Glazed Cornish Hens

Serves 2… or 4

2 Cornish Hens about 18 to 22 oz each
4 sage leaves
4 bay leaf
Salt and pepper


To roast the perfect chicken I always follow the following steps:

1.- Bring the Cornish Hens to room temperature. Take them out of the refrigerator at least one hour before you start to cook.
2.- Preheat the Oven at 450 F/ 232 C – cook at 425 F/ 218 C

3.- Using several paper towels pat dry the birds. Salt and pepper the cavity and add 2 bay leaves and 2 sage leaves to each bird cavity.

4.- Truss the birds.
Ensuring legs are tight and the tips of wings are behind the body just like if the bird is taking a nap in the sun.
Trussing the Cornish Hens make a more even mass, so they cook more evenly.

5.- Place them on a baking sheet or a heavy bottom roasting pan and roast for 40-50 minutes until a meat thermometer reads 160 F/ 71C. While the birds are in the oven, make the glaze.


About the Glaze:

The first time I made this dish I tried to make the glaze using the Cornish Hens drippings from the pan and de-glaze de pan like when you are making a gravy. I did not like this, the delicate floral flavors from the hibiscus were masked by the chicken fat so I made the glaze separate to keep the floral notes alive.

Hibiscus-Orange Glaze

1 cup dry Hibiscus Flowers
the zest of ½ medium size orange
½ cone Piloncillo
one clove
2 Arbol Chilies
1 teaspoon Ancho powder
4-6 Sprigs of thyme
1 tablespoon of butter.
pinch of salt.


Steep 1 cup dry hibiscus flowers in about 1 ½ cups of simmering water for about 8-10 minutes.
You can use a coffee press or a tea pot.
In a small sauce pan add the concentrated hibiscus tea , the piloncillo, clove, chile de arbol, ancho chili powder, orange zest, and thyme. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 4-6 minutes.
Remove the sprigs of thyme clove and chilies. And bring the sauce to a rapid simmer stir constantly.
Until the sauce is reduced by half . Check the consistency by dipping a spoon into the glaze and running your finger tip across. If the line stays on your glaze is ready. (see picture below). At this point add 1 tablespoon of butter until meted and well incorporated, set a side.


Check your Cornish Hens at 40 minutes. If the thermometer reads 155 start glazing,.
Use a pastry brush or a rubber brush to varnish them. Apply 1 coat and close the oven for about 3-4 minutes, apply 2 or 3 glaze coats in total.
Remove from the oven and let them rest for 5-8 minutes before serving.


Serve over a bed of herbed farro or rice, recipe follow…


Quick Herb Farro

Serves 2

½ cup Farro
2 cups Water
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon Orange zest.
1 tablespoon butter (or you can use some of the chicken fat from the roasting pan)
salt & pepper to taste.


In a small sauce pan, bring water to boil and add farro. Reduce heat to a low simmer.
Cook for about 20-25 minutes then. check for doneness. It usually takes 30-35 to be al dente.
At this point add butter , chopped parsley and orange zest, salt and pepper.
Toss, remove from heat cover with a lid for 5 minutes.
Serve warm.


I love farro done this way, I like it a little al dente, not too mushy, and I like to add the herbs at last to keep the flavors fresh and the colors vibrant.



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