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Braised Chicken Tabaka

Braised Chicken Tabaka

Cornish Hens get a double burst of olive flavor - a robust multi-olive marinade to start, and an herbed “olive salsa” on the side to finish. Start one day ahead to allow for enough marinating and brining time.

“Spatchcocked” means the splitting and removal of the backbone to facilitate the even, flat cooking of a bird.  Watch how to spatchcock here. Your butcher will be happy to spatchcock your Cornish hens upon request. We recommend, toasting whole fennel and coriander seeds and grind fresh in a spice grinder for maximum flavor.

Don't get overwhelmed by the ingredients and steps, this is for the marinade and the garnish and salad. 

  • Duration
  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 8-10Servings


Cornish Hens

  • 2 cups kosher salt 
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 8 Cornish hens, 1 pound each, spatchcocked
  • 1 bunch thyme, divided
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil


  • 1 cup dehydrated cured black olives pitted 
  • 2 cups Kalamata olives
  • 2 cups Castelvetrano olives
  • ½ cup garlic confit or roasted garlic 
  • 1 cup peeled black garlic 
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¼ cup ground coriander 
  • ⅛ cup fennel seed toasted and ground 
  • 2 whole preserved lemons, chopped
  • 2 sprigs rosemary, stems removed 
  • ¼ cup smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Guajillo chili powder
  • ½ cup drained, chopped capers
  • ½ cup chopped pickled green peppercorns (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses 
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Olive Salsa

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 cup reserved olive mixture from marinade 
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ preserved lemon, chopped
  •  ¼ cup drained, chopped capers
  • ½ cup port wine
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ bunch dill, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • ¼ bunch parsley, stems removed and leaves chopped

Fresh Herb Salad

  • ¼ bunch dill, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • ¼ bunch parsley, stems removed and leaves chopped
  • ¼ bunch mint, stems removed and leaves chopped 
  • ¼ bunch cilantro, stems removed and leaves chopped 
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • Garnish: pickled onion rings or shaved, marinated zucchini



1. Combine 2 cups salt, 2 cups sugar, and 4 cups water in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat just to dissolve all sugar and salt.

2. Add 6 cups cold water to a large bowl or container. You will need a large enough container or bowl to hold all hens and brine. Add brine and make sure the mixture is cool before placing chicken in it. Brine for at least 6 hours or overnight.

3. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil to a large cast iron pan or heavy roasting pan, over high heat. Place hens skin-side down in the pan and sear for 5 minutes, until browned. Once browned, hens should release easily (if not, sear for another minute). Remove from heat and flip them over so skin-side is facing up.


1. In a large bowl, combine cured black olives, Kalamata olives and Castelvetrano olives. Remove 1 cup of mixture and set aside for salsa. Add garlic confit, black garlic, 5 cloves minced garlic, fennel, coriander, 2 preserved lemons, rosemary, paprika, 4 sprigs thyme (stems removed), black pepper, chili powder, ½ cup capers, green peppercorns, 2 tbsp. pomegranate molasses, and 1 cup olive oil. Transfer to food processor and pulse until pieces are small and chunky (do not process until smooth).

2. Pour marinade over warm hens. Cover and marinate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight in the refrigerator. 

3. After hens have marinated, preheat oven to 375°F. 

4. Roast hens in a 375°F oven for 30 minutes, or when internal temperature reaches 165°F. Meanwhile, make olive salsa.


1. Add 2 tablespoons of evoo in a large saucepan over medium heat. To the pan, add the reserved 1 cup of olive mixture, fennel, shallots, remaining 5 cloves garlic, ½ preserved lemon and ¼ cup capers. Sauté vegetables for 5 to 6 minutes. 

2. Add wine and thyme sprigs and cook for 6 minutes, until liquid has reduced. Add 1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses and season with salt and pepper. 

3. Remove thyme sprigs; discard. Remove from heat and stir in half of the dill and parsley. 


1. In a large bowl, toss remaining dill, parsley, mint, and cilantro with a few tablespoons olive, a squeeze of lemon, salt and pepper. 

2. Serve hens on a large platter with Olive Salsa spooned over them. Garnish with fresh herb salad.