Martha's take on the popular Arabian Gulf meat-and-rice dish known as makbous calls for Cornish game hens and a bed of delicately spiced pearl couscous and yellow split peas.

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Ingredients

For the Cornish Game Hens
For the Couscous

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Make the Cornish game hens: Preheat oven to 500 degrees. In a large stockpot, bring stock, onions, garlic, peppercorns, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, 3 teaspoons salt, and 8 cups water to a simmer over medium-high heat.

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  • Season hens with salt and pepper and place into the simmering poaching liquid, adding more water, if necessary, to cover hens. Poach for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove hens from poaching liquid and place them breast-side up on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack. Strain poaching liquid, reserving 5 cups for couscous.

  • In a small bowl, stir to combine ghee, loumi, coriander, ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Brush ghee mixture all over the poached hens, then transfer to oven. Roast until skin is crisp and deep golden brown, about 8 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

  • Make the couscous: In a large straight-sided skillet, heat ghee over medium. Add garlic, leeks, onion, thyme, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, and cayenne; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in split peas and 5 cups reserved poaching liquid; bring to a simmer. Cook for 5 minutes, then stir in couscous and cook until al dente, about 15 minutes. Fold in spinach and season with salt and pepper.

  • Halve hens through the breast and backbones, if desired. Spoon couscous onto a serving platter and top with hens.

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