The easier it is for me to get food on the table, the happier I am. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s worth it to slowly stir risotto until it’s just right, and I render my own duck fat, which is more than a little time consuming. But also simple–I can bring whatever I’m reading into the kitchen and stir with one eye on the pan.
Roast chicken is even easier. You don’t even have to be in the kitchen while it cooks. That translates to the ability to try new flavors with impunity. Olives. Artichoke. Orange. When you cut a Cornish hen in half (and I always do before cooking one) and lay it over anything, from potatoes and garlic to curried greens, the flesh absorbs the flavor and the chicken juices drip all over the other stuff. And of course there’s the obvious advantage of cooking your vegetables in the same pan as your meat–only one pan to clean, and no racing around the kitchen making sure all the components are going to be ready at the same time.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 T olive oil
scallions and basil to taste (or whatever herbs you want.)
20 (ish) kalamata olives
8 oz frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
1 cup white wine
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Cut the hen in half and remove the spine. Chop the herbs you’re using, and rub them, along with some olive oil and salt, under the skin of the hens.
Slice the orange and quarter the slices. Cut each olive in half. Arrange the oranges, olives, and artichoke hearts in the bottom of a cast-iron pan or oven-proof dish.
Place the hens, skin side up, on top of the mixture and pour the wine over everything.
I had a couple of extra slices of orange, so I slapped them on top of the chicken. Pop the pan in the oven for about 30 minutes, and you’re done! If I hadn’t been running late I would have turned on the broiler for about 5 minutes to brown up the skin, but otherwise this was perfect. The wine and juices of the pan fruits/vegetable soaked up into the meat and made it incredibly tender. The orange slices on top actually became crunchy, and crunchy blackened orange skin is now something I want to grind up with some salt, because it’s delightful (Yes, I ate a slightly burned orange peel. Are you trying to tell me that’s weird?) I spooned the artichoke hearts and olives onto toasted slices of ciabatta, far healthier than buttering bread and even more delicious. In other words, this is a perfect meal for a lazy day. Or a day when you’re going to work the evening shift and want a nice hot lunch first. Either way. Perfect. I’ll be making this again soon.