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?

Check out everyone else’s hens here. We don’t share the actual recipes, but you can find this recipe and more in Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table.

Next week’s recipe looks like another winner: Buckwheat Blini with Smoked Salmon and Crème Fraîche. Can’t wait for that one.

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Posted on 7 October 2011, in Autumn, French Fridays with Dorie and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Happy anniversary and a great pick! We really enjoyed this one. And I have been eying that Nigella recipe for quite a while, might have to pick up some gnocchi and give it a try this weekend.

  2. Happy anniversary, Betsy! It has been so much fun getting to know you and cooking along with you this past year. And it is so impressive that you have done all the recipes except for one! Your cornish hen look wonderful and the side dishes you chose sound so delicious. This was a good choice and I also thought it made an elegant dinner and would be perfect to serve to guests. I hope you have a great weekend!

  3. So hard to believe it’s been a year! Great idea, btw, serving these with gnocchi – what a delicious meal you’ve got there!

  4. Looks great! I’m glad you suggested this one. I never would have tried it on my own! I also made the tapenade. I want to eat it with a spoon, it’s so good!

  5. I’m so happy for French Fridays – happy anniversary Betsy! Those roastini look so good. I’ll have to look into that recipe as well. Great job with the cornish hens. I’m bookmarking the video link for when I get around making them.

  6. Wow – a whole year. Crazy.
    Those gnocchi look good – they caught my eye right up front!
    Have a great weekend.

  7. Maybe you could use the tapenade to make a tapenade version of Dorie’s mustard batons! I know I made mine with pesto, so I’m sure tapenade would work as well.

  8. tapenade dressing for salad? I confess, I’ve only ever spread it on bread or used it in muffaletta sandwiches. the hens were great, despite my overcooking.

  9. I’m intrigued by the Rapid Roastini…they sound yummy! Your hens look delicious too. I love that making two hens provides dinner for two meals!

  10. Mmmmm, your dinner plate looks wonderful, Betsy! It’s hard to believe we’ve made 50+ recipes together…it’s been fun!

  11. Thanks for suggesting this one – I’m not a big olive fan, but really loved the flavor with the lemon. Those gnocchi also look tasty!

  12. I mix tapenade with sour cream to make a killer dip for veggies. It’s especially good with crisp-tender and chilled green beans. It’s the best use for tapenade I’ve found. I can’t believe you’ve only missed one recipe! Good work, I’m at about 70%…good thing we’re not graded! : )

  13. Your plate looks great! The gnocchi look really good :). I loved Dorie’s tapenade, too…I just eat it with bread.

  14. The gnocchi look amazing! I love olives and tapenade and often spread it on bread, or spread it on bread with some feta or goat cheese and add some salami or roasted peppers or something to make a little sandwich. Also, I think it’s so great that you have done all so far but for one! I’m jealous.

  15. Delicious meal you have there. I love the olive tapenade and I shall make this again. I am glad I did not give this a miss :) Love it !

  16. Bets – I love olives! I’ll send you a recipe that may work for using the remaining tapenade.

  17. Mmm, love the sound of your roastini. Your birds turned out well.

  18. I say toss out the tapenade, but thats just me, I didnt like it that much but I see that lots of our FFwD-ers are liking it on crackers or toast points! I like using the game hens or poussins as an alternative to chicken just to mix things up. It was a tasty way to have the birds though huh?

  19. I’ve been away and although I made these lovely little game hens, I never posted…hopefully today! Your dinner looks wonderful! I have not been as good as you with FFWD I’ve missed several…some I just couldn’t bring myself to make.

  20. It was a great first year, wasn’t it? I still have three recipes to catch up on some time, so I’m impressed that you’ve only missed one! I don’t think I’ll make the game hens often either, but the tapenade under the skin of chicken pieces could definitely become a regular thing. I loved the delicate flavour it brought – I was worried it might be overwhelming.

  21. Hi, Betsy! It was great hearing from you. I hope you and Howard like the roasted vegetables and lentils. Yes, leave the skin on the acorn squash. It gets soft during roasting and is delicious! Just make sure you remove the stem and around the stem where it is hard and there is a little hard spot on the bottom of the squash that should be removed because those get a little burnt and even harder and is a surprise when you bite down on them. I hope you are having a great Sunday!

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