Some recipes are more about technique than ingredients and this week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe, Olive Oil Cornish Hens, was a prime example. The list of ingredients was short and, aside from the hens themselves, consisted of basic pantry staples.
The all important technique called for in this recipe is spatchcocking, which entails opening up the hen and flattening it out. After reading Dorie’s instructions for how to do this I was a little intimidated and my first thought was to ask the woman at the poultry stand to do it for me. But then I thought no, for me this project is meant to be a learning experience and what’s the point if I don’t even try. Then I found this great video on You Tube (how did we do anything before the internet was invented?) which demonstrates the simple steps for how you get your hens from this… to this…
According to Dorie, the benefits of this method are twofold: first, the chicken cooks faster (a little under half an hour for my little birdies) and second, ALL of the skin is facing up and thus comes out nice and crispy. Like this…
Brilliant right? I will absolutely be using this technique again. Paired with pumpkin casserole and a mixed green salad, Dorie’s recipe made for a simple yet tasty meal.
Edited to add the Pumpkin Casserole recipe. The original recipe came from Williams Sonoma’s New Healthy Kitchen book. This is my slightly tweaked version.
- 4 pounds (2 kilograms) sugar pie pumpkin (these are the small pumpkins, not the big jack-o-lantern guys), seeded and cut into 2 inch wedges
- olive oil
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche (I imagine cream would work here as well)
- 1 tsp butter
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 TBS grated parmesan
- 2 TBS grated gruyere
Coat pumpkin wedges lightly with olive oil and place on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 1 to 1.5 hours. Remove from oven, remove and discard the skins, and mash the flesh in a bowl with the nutmeg, creme fraiche, and salt-n-pepper to taste. Spread the pumpkin mixture in your prepared gratin dish.
Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat, add the bread crumbs and stir for about 2 minutes or until golden brown. Sprinkle bread crumbs, rosemary, and cheeses over the pumpkin.
Bake until slightly golden on top and bubbling at the edges about 20 minutes.