This week’s recipe for French Fridays with Dorie might sound a bit fancy-shmancy at first, but it’s actually one of the simplest recipes we’ve made so far. Sure, cooking with Cornish game hens is something most of us don’t do all that often. But if you think about it, they’re really just little bitty chickens.
The ingredient list is short: Cornish hens, tapenade, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. And the preparation was easy, too. I spatchcocked the hens (that’s a British term for butterflying; and if you think it’s vulgar, you should hear what the French call it), then stuffed a little tapenade under the skin and dressed the skin with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
I roasted the hens at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. They smoked up the house quite a bit, and I wonder that I should have roasted them at a slightly lower temperature for a bit longer. No matter, though, as they came out looking great.
I had taken the Cornish hens out of the freezer to cook this past weekend, but somehow let the time get away from me. I knew I needed to cook them before the weekend was up, and I ended up roasting them Sunday night after we had already had dinner. Nonetheless, I tasted some of the meat shortly after it came out of the oven, and it was delicious. The tapenade gave it a rich flavor without being overpowering, and the skin was crispy and flavorful.
I chilled the hens overnight, then pulled the meat off the bones and made a wonderful chicken salad with it. I like cooking Cornish hens from time to time for something different, and the next time I make them, I will certainly reach for this recipe.