Roast Cornish Hens with Oregon Blackberry Rachuli

This dish comes to us from the ruggedly beautiful Racha region of Georgia, in the high foothills of the Caucasus Mountains. There, it’s traditionally served with roast chicken for special occasions, and though it’s relatively straightforward and fast to prepare, the rachuli sauce is its own cause for celebration when made using fragrant Oregon blackberries. The dish becomes an elegant main course with Cornish hens, but a chicken is more traditional — just plan on one hen (or half a chicken) per person; there will be plenty of sauce. For an easy meal, serve with rice, salad and bread.

Recipe by Heather Arndt Anderson from the Voodoo and Sauce Blog

oregon berries heather ardnt anderson roast cornish hens with oregon blackberry rachuli


2-4 Cornish game hens (or 1-2 small chickens)
3 Cups frozen Oregon blackberries, thawed, juices reserved
1 Tablespoon verjus, pomegranate molasses, or unsweetened cranberry juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon blue fenugreek powder (available on Amazon)
1 Tablespoon marjoram, finely chopped (or one teaspoon dried and crushed)
A pinch of ancho chile powder or cayenne
2 Tablespoons of cilantro, finely minced
1 sprig of dill, finely minced
*Other optional herbs for added flavor: a teaspoon finely minced parsley, lovage, tarragon, and/or chervil*


Step 1
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Spatchcock the Cornish hens by simply snipping out the backbone with kitchen shears (or, less easily, a sharp knife) or ask your butcher to spatchcock your poultry when purchasing. Lay the birds flat on a roasting pan or in cast iron skillet, skin side up. Brush them with oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, then roast for about 30-40 minutes, until a thermometer inserted in the thigh reads 165°F and the juices run clear.

Step 2
While the birds are roasting, purée or mash the thawed blackberries and press them through a sieve to remove the seeds (you can steep these in apple cider vinegar for a couple weeks to make blackberry vinegar!).

Step 3
Simmer the purée in a small saucepan over medium heat with the verjus (or pomegranate molasses or cranberry juice), garlic, blue fenugreek, marjoram, and chile powder. Simmer for about ten minutes, then reduce to low and stir in the cilantro and dill (and other fresh herbs, if using).

Step 4 
Allow the hens to rest for 10 minutes covered in foil, then stir any accumulated juices into the rachuli. Pour the sauce over the roasted birds and garnish with a few pinches of chopped fresh herbs.