Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Day 8: Oven Roasted Cornish Game Hens

Well, day 8 marks the start of week two of my challenge and coincidentally marks almost the end of my fridge's resources.  There were brussel sprouts in need of consumption and that was just about it.  After a brief conversation with my brother I decided to try my hand at Cornish game hens.  For those of you unfamiliar with these mythical beasts they are basically just tiny chickens.  The brussel sprouts are actually edible if you throw them together into something that is basically a slaw, and personally, I'm always a fan of your standard plain boring white rice with almost any protein.

The slaw and rice were fairly simple so I'm just going to cover them real quick now before I get to the chicken that was the real experiment here.  The slaw starts with just some shallots, carrots and garlic sliced thin and sweated until soft.  The sprouts go into the food processor and pulsed a few times (because I am entirely too lazy to actually slice all of those individually) and then get tossed into the pan with the other ingredients.  Finally the juice of 1 lime and some toasted pine nuts get mixed in on top.  The end result looks a little like this:

And while it isn't my favorite food in the world, it is edible and good for me (or so I've been told).  The rice I just took 1/2 cup of basmati with some chicken stock, water, salt and some olive oil.  The rice gets toasted in the olive oil, then everything else goes into the pot on top until the rice is done.

That brings us to the chicken and the new technique I worked on this evening, "Spatchcocking."  This is where you basically flatten the chicken and cook it that way.  The first step in the process is cutting out the chicken's spine (little gross, I know but I've never been bothered by raw meat or butchery).  This allows you to flatten out the chicken to help it cook more quickly and evenly, along with helping you get a good golden caramelization on the skin.  I also took advantage of it to toss a quick and lazy rub on the skin and inside of the chicken, giving both sides a thorough coating of Emeril's Essence and a key lime seasoning from world market.

With the chicken rubbed down and ready to go I set out my trusty cast iron pan and pre-heated the oven to 375.  Once the oven got hot and my cast iron was rip-roaringly hot (that's a technical term) I tossed a bit of olive oil into the pan and threw the chicken in on top with the skin down to help get a good brown caramelization on the skin.  After about 2-3 minutes I flipped over the chicken to get some colour and cooking on the other side (about 2-3 more minutes) before it went into the oven.  The end result was a bird that looked about like this before it hit the oven.

  After about 15 minutes in the oven a quick temperature check confirmed that the bird was indeed done.  Once out of the oven the bird came out of the pan and some white wine, chicken stock and lime juice went into the pan to deglaze it.  This is where the only major mistake and problem with this meal occurred.  Unfortunately the pan was entirely too hot and instead of creating a slightly sweet and citrus sauce it just tasted faintly burnt and with a bit too much chicken fat in it.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I wanted.

However, the overall meal was wonderful.  The chicken was (miraculously) cooked perfectly and had a really great flavor with the rub and skin on top.  The rice went with it perfectly and the slaw was (while still not my favorite by any stretch) pretty good.  A successful experiment all around, but now Funday Monday (a day late) and Eve are calling my name before I head to bed.

Today's Recipe:
1 Cornish game hen
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (toast them yourself ideally)
Olive Oil
2 limes
2 cups brussel sprouts chopped
1 carrot
1 large shallot
Emeril's Essence
key lime spice mix

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