Monday, October 12, 2009

Brown-Bag-Roasted Garlic and Chili Cornish Hen with a Touch of Honey

The buttery scent of this dish is the ultimate show-stopper at dinner parties. As guests arrived yesterday for Thanksgiving (Action de Grâce in French), they were immediately drawn by the rich aroma and smell swarming from the kitchen as the cornish hens were slowly roasting in the oven.

I've posted a few recipes of roasted poultry already and you probably noticed that I often use the bag method to roast chicken or hen. I like to use either these special plastic oven bags or greased brown paper bags to roast poultry as it significantly reduces the cooking time of the meat and renders the poultry into a sublimely tender and juicy pièce de résistance.

Turkey can also be roasted using this bag method, using a much bigger bag such as the ones used for packing your groceries, as long as the poultry is cooked in a well-sealed container that creates a steamy environment for the poultry to slowly cook and to brown at the same time. Another great advantage of using an oven bag or a brown paper bag, as opposed to a oven-safe ceramic covered pot, is that the poultry roasts to a crispy and tender bird as it cooks. This year, I decided to go with smaller poultry, like the cornish hen, because they are easier to prepare and portions are easier to serve. I also find that the meat is also more tender then chicken or turkey.

The left over sauce dripped from the roasting can be used to make a light tasty gravy by slowly stirring the sauce with a bit of flour, no more than a tablesppon, and slowly whisk the mixture until the sauce thickens. I usually don't make any gravy because the cornish hens usually come out very very juicy. I like serving them with salads, vegetables, potatoes or a well seasoned rice. A fine bottle of wine should complete your Thanksgiving dinner.
Preparation time: 10 minutes for both cornish hens, Cooking time : 1 hour in convectional over, 1 1/2 hour in a regular oven.

Recipe "au pif":
2 grain-fed cornish hen (about 2 lbs each)
3 large cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp coarse sea salt
2 tsp dried chili flakes
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp softened garlic butter
Canola oil

Preheat the oven at 350F.

Prepare the marinade by mixing the honey, garlic, chili flakes, pepper and olive oil in a small salad bowl.

How to spatchcock a chicken or hen (flatten the chicken for the grill or the oven roast):Place the chicken breast-side down on a cutting board. Using poultry shears or a very sharp knife, cut from the neck to the tail end along either side of the backbone to remove.You'll be cutting through flesh and small bones, so you'll have to use some force; take special care if using a knife.Once the backbone is out, you'll have a clear view of the interior of the cornish hen .With both hands placed on the rib cage, crack open the cornish hen by opening it, like a book, toward the cutting board.Flip over, flatten the cornish hen with your fist and smooth the skin. You've spatchcocked your bird.Marinate the cornish hen by rubbing with your hands all sides of the cornish hen , the skin and the interior, with the already prepared honey-garlic-chili marinade. Let the cornish hen marinate for 24 hours or overnight in a well-sealed container or tupperware.
Rub the softened butter on top top side of the cornish hen.

Line a large baking dish with 2 brown paper bags that have been cut open in halves on one side. Place the cornish hen in the brown lunch paper bags. Take some of the remaining marinade and rub the rest on the cornish hen. Close the bag and seal it well by tucking the open ends under the bird. Grease the top part of the bag with the oil with the help of a soft brush. Make sure the bag is translucid so as to prevent burning while roasting the cornish hen.
Roast the cornish hens for about 1 hour if using a convectional oven, or 1 1/2 hours if using a regular oven, or until the skin of the cornish hen has browned. This is a good indication that the hens are ready. You can peek once in a while to check the skin.

Serve with a side dish roasted vegetables (potatoes, zucchinis, carrots) or herb-fragranced rice.

Serves 4-6 people.

Share and enjoy a great Thanksgiving dinner.

1 comment:

Cynthia said...

I love the idea of roasting in the paper bag. Got to remember that the next time I roast chicken.