Archive for May, 2013
It’s been a long time since I’ve roasted a Cornish Hen. There area few reasons for this: other meat, even boneless breast-and-rib meat, tends to be a bit cheaper by weight, pan-searing and smoking are quicker than roasting, and boneless meat is a lot more convenient for cutting up bite-sized and adding to a pasta dish or stir fry.
Mostly though, I got bored. When I roast Cornish Hens (or any other bird except duck) I do the same three things over and over again. Roasted plain with mustard powder and salt. Roasted with Guinness (okay, I’ll never get sick of this, but I buy beer maybe 6-7 times a year, so it’s not gonna happen often). Roasted with lemon, garlic, and honey. There’s nothing wrong with any of this, but none of it really jumps out anymore and if there is anything I hate in the kitchen it’s feeling like I’m just making the same darn thing every week.
But I like roast chicken. It was just time to do it a bit differently. Good thing I had a copy of A Bird in the Oven hanging around. It’s one of those cookbooks I’ve had for a couple of years but inexplicably only ever use to make side dishes. This time I went looked at the chicken itself, ooh-ing at a few recipes and bookmarking others for possible dinner party use. I finally picked a recipe: roast chicken with saffron, ginger, and golden raisins.
Then, as usual, I changed pretty much everything.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 Cornish Hen
2 T butter at room temperature
6 dried apricots
1 T whole mustard
1 t mustard powder
1/4 t white pepper
1/2 t smoked paprika
1 t kosher salt
3/4 cup white wine
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cut the spine out of the hen and cut through the breastbone, cutting it in half. Dry the hen well (better yet, dry cure it for a day or two in the fridge). Chop the apricots into about 1/4″ dice.
Combine the butter, diced apricots, and whole mustard in a small dish.
Squish together with a spoon until well combined.
Add the paprika and stir again.
Using your fingers and/or the back of a spoon, spread the butter mixture underneath the skin of your hen. This will feel gross. Persevere. Place the hens cut-side-down in a cast iron skillet or other oven safe dish and sprinkle the skins with the salt, mustard powder, and white pepper.
Roast 15 minutes at 400°F. Pop the skillet on the stove, reduce the heat to 350°F, and pour the wine over the chicken.
Return to the oven to roast another 25-30 minutes at 350°F. If you like crispy skin (and who doesn’t?) crank it up to broil for about two minutes at the end.
Let it rest just a couple of minutes to soak up a bit more of that wine before serving. Serve with spinach couscous and a plate of olives.
The apricot-mustard combination is definitely going to come out to play in future recipes. These are two of my favorite things but I never would have thought that combining them would work so well.
I think I was overexposed to certain things as a child. Things like ponies and precious little heart-shaped objects and anything pink.
I hate pink. Pink is for little girls and Valentine’s Day cards and Pepto Bismol commercials. It is very rarely allowed to invade my home.
Obviously there’s an exception clause for food. Raspberry tarts and curds, salmon poached in red wine, and anything made with beets can’t help but be pink. If the flavor is assertive enough, I’ll forgive my dinner for looking a bit girlish and twee.
This definitely makes the cut.
Beets and goat cheese really should never be separated. Puree the two together, bake them in a crust, and you’ve got a delightfully filling vegetarian meal. It is also the most brightly colored pot pie you’ve ever seen.
The filling and crust can just as easily be made in a 9″ tart or pie tin. I enjoy the deep dish ramekins, but mostly because they provide an excuse to dig in with a spoon.
For the crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1 t salt
1/4 t white pepper
1/4 t nutmeg
8 T (1 stick) cold butter
3 T ice water
For the filling:
3 medium beets
4 oz goat cheese
1/4 cup cream
1/4 t white pepper
1/4 t nutmeg
salt, to taste
First, roast the beets. Rub them with a little olive oil, wrap tightly in foil, and bake at 400°F for an hour or so.
While those are roasting, make the crust. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor.
Pulse briefly to combine. Add the butter in chunks.
Pulse in 1-2 second bursts until the dough is the consistency of damp sand. Add the water and run the machine until the dough comes together.
Sprinkle the counter lightly with flour and turn out the dough onto it.
Roll it about 1/8″ thick in a vague rectangle shape (or round if using a pie/tart pan). Butter two 10-oz ramekins (or 4 6-oz ones, or a pie tin).
One could line things neatly. Or, if one is not talented at doing things neatly, just flop the dough into the prepared bakeware, call the draping parts rustic, and have done with it.
Put the ramekins in the refrigerator while you make the filling. The food processor is useful again here, so I’m afraid you’ll have to wash it. Put the roasted beets in the bowl.
This is not pink. It is a delightful deep red.
Add the goat cheese and process until uniform in color.
Now it’s pink. Lament.
Add cream, egg, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
Give it another whirl to combine.
Pour the filling into the crust and bake at 350°F for 45 minutes.
Serve with green beans sautéed with dried cranberries. Just trust me. It’s a weird combination but oh so good.
This is just as good as a hot dinner or a cold meal the next day. The filling is very soft. If you feel it would be improved by a bit of crunch, throw a handful of chopped walnuts on top or fold them into the filling before baking.