Grilled Game Hens with Moroccan Spices
For the most part in Morocco, grilled fare means lamb, but here's a dish for poultry lovers that's fairly bursting with Moroccan spice flavors. Cumin, ginger, paprika, and cilantro combine to transform a commonplace bird into a flame-cooked triumph.
4 game hens (each about 1 pound)
1 medium onion, grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot or sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
lemon wedges, for garnish
Remove and discard the fat just inside the body cavities of the game hens. Remove the packages of giblets (if any) and set aside for another use. Rinse the hens, inside and out, under cold running water, then drain and blot dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Spatchcook (cut down the backbone with a sharp, strong pair of kitchen scissors the game hens or cut each one lengthwise in half with poultry shears. Place the birds in a large, deep nonreactive bowl or baking dish and set aside while you prepare the marinade.
Combine the onion, parsley, cilantro, lemon juice, oil salt, cumin, paprika, ginger, and pepper in a small bowl and whisk to mix. Pour the mixture over the game hens in the large bowl and turn the birds to coat thoroughly. Cover and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for 1 to 8 hours (the longer the better), turning the birds occasionally.
Preheat the grill, using the two-tiered method.
When ready to cook, oil the grill grate. Remove the game hens from the marinade and arrange, skin side down, on the grate over the hotter section of the grill. The total cooking time will be 25 to 35 minutes.
Transfer the hens to serving plates or a platter and serve immediately, garnished with lemon wedges.