French Fridays with Dorie: Olive-Olive Cornish Hens
It’s hard to believe it’s been one full year since French Fridays with Dorie started in October 2010. I’ve really stuck with the program and missed only one recipe (Parisian Gnocchi). It’s been so much fun to try such a wide variety of recipes, some in my comfort zone, and some outside of it. I’ve met so many wonderful people from around the world. I love reading about everyone else’s experience with the common recipe, and their variations to adjust for dietary restrictions, preferences, or just inspired creativity. It’s one of my favorite parts of every week. Happy Anniversary to the other Doristas! I’m enjoying this shared adventure with you.
This week’s recipe from Around My French Table was Olive-Olive Cornish Hens. I actually suggested this one. It looked intriguing and was a little out of my comfort zone. It also seemed like a hearty dish for our cooler evenings. For this recipe, the hens were first “spatchcocked” or butterflied. You cut out the backbone, open up the bird, and break the breastbone so it will lie flat on a baking sheet. (Coincidentally, the New York Times has a video of Melissa Clark spatchcocking a chicken this week.)
Earlier in the week, I made Dorie’s recipe for Tapenade. It only took a few minutes, pureeing black oil-cured olives, an anchovy, some herbs, lemon, and olive oil to make a paste. I rubbed some tapenade under the hens’ skin, then rubbed them down with olive oil and sprinkled them with lemon juice. It’s as simple as that. The hens roasted for just 25 minutes in a very hot oven. The birds were sizzling when they came out of the oven with perfectly crisped skin.
We split the hens in half and shared one for two nights in a row. To accompany the hens the first night, I made Rapid Roastini, (from Nigella’s Kitchen, which I had out from the library) which are pan-fried potato gnocchi. They browned up beautifully and tasted like adult tater tots. I also made sautéed kale with almonds. For night #2, I just served the hens with steamed rice and a green salad.
The Cornish hens offered unexpected weeknight elegance. It was definitely fast enough to make for everyday, but would impress guests. Other than the cute factor, I don’t know if I would bother with Cornish hens for regular dinner, but I could see rubbing the tapenade under the skin of chicken pieces and roasting them in the same way. Less bones!
I still have quite a bit of tapenade to use up. What ideas do you have for using it?
Next week’s recipe looks like another winner: Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche. Can’t wait for that one.