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Shared by Sasha Shor

Tsyplyonok Tabaka (Pan-Fried Crispy Cornish Hens With Walnut-Garlic Sauce)

Yield: 2 servingsTime: 2h plus 6-8 hours of marinating

Tsyplyonok Tabaka (Pan-Fried Crispy Cornish Hens With Walnut-Garlic Sauce)

Yield: 2 servingsTime: 2h plus 6-8 hours of marinating

This recipe was shared by Sasha Shor. Read more about her family in "A Taste of a Modern Russian Hanukkah Celebration" and try her recipes for adjika (Georgian pickled hot pepper relish) and white fish and potato latkes with caviar and sour cream.

Plus, find more Hanukkah recipes in our holiday collection.


For the wet rub:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, heavily smashed
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • Juice and peel of one lemon (peel to be in strips, made with a vegetable peeler)
  • Juice and peel of one orange (peel to be in strips, made with a vegetable peeler)
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced into thin rings

For the walnut-garlic sauce:

  • 1 ½ cups toasted walnuts, fully cooled
  • 10 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups flat leaf parsley, stems removed, finely chopped
  • 1 cup dill, stems removed, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 ½ cups extra virgin olive oil

For the chicken:

  • 2 - 1 ½ - 2 lb. - cornish hens, poussins or small chickens
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and heavily smashed
  • 1 handful each of roughly chopped dill, cilantro, tarragon, flat-leaf parsley, mixed
  • 6 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee), divided in half
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Juice from ½ a lemon
Cooking ProjectsMain CoursesKosher for PassoverGluten FreeMeat Eastern Europe


  • Step 1

    Prepare the wet rub: evenly combine all of the ingredients for the wet rub in a medium bowl.

  • Step 2

    Rinse and pat the chickens dry. Spatchcock each chicken; Cut out the backbone of each bird using poultry shears. Open like a book, remove the breast bones, and flatten with the palm of your hand. Cover them in plastic wrap and use the flat side of a meat mallet to pound the chickens and flatten them further, especially in bony areas. Put the chickens in individual gallon Ziplock bags. Pour half of the spice paste into each Ziplock bag and rub chickens all over and under the skin where it pulls away easily. Separate the sliced onions across the 2 bags, and spread around all sides of the chickens, push out the air and seal/cover. Refrigerate 6-8 hours, preferably overnight.

  • Step 3

    Prepare the walnut garlic sauce: Place the walnuts, garlic cloves, salt and pepper into a food processor and pulse a few times until a very coarse, crumbly mixture forms. Do not over process. Remove the walnuts from the processor into a bowl. Stir in the parsley, dill, honey, vinegar and olive oil. If too thick, add a teaspoon more each of olive oil and vinegar. Sauce should resemble pesto - thick, but pourable. Re-season to taste with more salt and pepper if desired. Pour sauce into a jar and cover until ready to serve.

    Note: making this sauce at least a few hours in advance and allowing it to sit covered at room temperature will allow the flavors to marry and the overall texture to improve significantly. It can also beprepared 1 day in advance and kept refrigerated. Bring to room temperature and stir well before serving.

  • Step 4

    To cook: Remove the chickens from the refrigerator and wipe off excess juices, discard any excess rub, garlic and onions. Blot the chickens with paper towels to dry them as well as you can. Set over clean paper towels and let sit for 30 minutes at room temperature before cooking.

  • Step 5

    Preheat oven to 200°F to keep cooked chicken(s) warm while cooking remaining chicken(s). Have a lined sheet pan with a rack ready to transfer the chicken to the oven on.

  • Step 6

    Prepare a large, seasoned cast iron pan that will fit a flattened bird, allowing the complete surface area of the chicken to be in direct contact with the pan. You will also need something to weigh down the chicken evenly. A smaller sized cast iron pan that fits inside the larger one, filled with a heavy mortar & pestle, or large cans of tomatoes works well. You can also use a foil wrapped brick or two, or a round dutch oven weighted with cans or water-filled jars.

  • Step 7

    Cut a piece of parchment paper that will fit completely over the chicken in the large pan you’ll be cooking the bird in and set aside.

  • Step 8

    Heat 2 tablespoons of the clarified butter and olive oil in the large cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Rub the chicken all over with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add to the hot pan, skin side up. Cover with parchment paper and weigh down. Do not touch it or move it around. After 12-15 minutes, remove the weights and parchment and flip the chicken over, skin side down. Replace parchment paper and weights and cook for 12-15 minutes more. Do not touch it or move it around so as not to tear or disturb the skin until it’s crispy and pulls away from the pan by itself. It is done when a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 165° or juices run clear when pierced with the tip of a knife. Remove chicken from pan, place skin side up and transfer to lined sheet pan. Place in warm oven while making the second one the same way.

  • Step 9

    While both chickens are warming, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of clarified butter in a small saucepan with smashed garlic cloves and a squeeze of lemon juice. Warm through until fragrant. Remove chickens from the oven and pour any juices from the chickens into the butter mixture as well. Arrange chickens on a serving platter or on a clean sheet tray, drizzle with warmed butter-garlic- juices mixture, and generously top with chopped mixed herbs. Serve with pickled vegetables, fermented cabbage slaw, walnut garlic sauce and adjika on the side. Adjika can be made fresh (recipe below) or purchased online or in any Eastern European grocery store.