Posts Tagged Chicken

Guiness Marinated Cornish Hen

This may be the best way to cook a chicken that I have ever encountered. I tend to say that about every type of Cornish hen I make, but this time I mean it. It’s tender. It’s dark. It’s smoky. All the bitterness of Guinness and mustard and molasses come together to turn the meat into something more decadent than I could possibly have guessed. And you won’t believe how easy it was to make.

One of the more delightful things about Cornish hens is the fact that they’re small. This means they don’t take as long to cook. This means you have to almost try to overcook the little things to end up with tough breast meat. So while this recipe would surely work for a nice big butterflied fryer if you cooked it longer, I urge you to stick with wee little hens. You’ll thank me when you pick up a drumstick and the meat slides right off of it onto your plate.

Ingredients (serves 1 per half-hen)

One and a half Cornish hens, bisected (or one hen to serve two, or two hens to serve four.)

1 bottle Guinness extra stout, or your favorite stout. Don’t use Guinness draught. I’ll know, and I won’t be pleased.

3 T mustard powder

3 T olive oil

1 T salt

2 T molasses

3 cloves garlic


Pour the beer in a bag. I like to prop a gallon zip-top bag up inside of my 2-quart soufflé dish so that it can’t fall over and cover the counter, the floor, and the corvid with marinade.

Scoop in the mustard powder.

Lots and lots of mustard powder.

Then the olive oil.

Then molasses. No, I didn’t actually measure the molasses. It’s too sticky.

Now we need some salt. I didn’t measure that, either, because there’s no such thing as too much salt.

Then garlic. I always seem to be out of fresh garlic, and the ones we planted were uprooted and carried off by a maniacal squirrel, so we’re using dried today. Fresh is better.

That’s your finished marinade. Seal it up and shake/squish it until everything is fully mixed.

Put the hens inside and pop the whole bag in the fridge for a few hours or (better) overnight. Flip the bag over a few times to keep the marinade even.

When ready to cook, heat the oven to 425°F. Arrange the hens skin side up in a cast iron pan big enough to fit them without crowding. Pour the marinade over them and sprinkle the skin with a bit of salt.

Bake 30-35 minutes at 425°F.

Serve with colcannon and asparagus.

Sorry about that last picture. My camera battery died before I could take more than one. The chicken is delightful. I agree with our lovely dinner guest that the only necessary improvement would be a chicken made only of the crispy skin (so good!), but this was delightful. I mean absolutely and purely fantastic. Make this soon, you won’t regret it.


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Greek Cornish Hens

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 Cornish hen

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  orange

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.



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Chicken Francese

The first time I made this was a revelation. Fried chicken. Velvety coating. Rich, creamy, alcoholic sauce. I describe myself (less jokingly than is healthy) as a carbivore. I usually can’t handle more than four ounces of meat but can eat a whole baguette in one sitting.  Ladies and gentlemen, The first time I made this I chose to forgo my side of bread in order to eat more chicken.  Mr. B’s jaw just about hit the floor.

This is crazy easy to make. Messy, but fast and easy. You can dress it up with grilled asparagus and toasted french rounds, or down with biscuits and steamed veg, or anything in between.

This is one of those not-so-kosher deals where I eat poultry with milk because chickens’ mamas do not produce milk, so there. But you could substitute some schmaltz for the butter and skip the Parmesan and it’d all be good.

Ingredients (serves two, easily doubled)

For the fried chicken:

1 pound chicken breast meat

1 egg, beaten

1/4 cup grated Parmesan mixed with 1/2 cup flour

3/4 cup bread crumbs

vegetable oil for frying

For the sauce:

2 T butter (or schmaltz)

2 T flour

1/2 cup white wine

juice of 1/2 of a lemon (about 1 1/2 T)

3/4 cup chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

capers (optional, but awesome)


Heat a layer of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a nice big sauce pan. Dredge strips of chicken breast in flour mixture, then dip them in egg goo, then dredge that mess in bread crumbs. Your fingers, as well as the chicken, will be well-breaded for frying.

Fry chicken about three minutes a side. Wash your fingers. They would probably smell delicious frying, but you wouldn’t like it. Unless you’re very masochistic, in which case it still isn’t a good idea. Plop  the chicken on a bed of paper towels to rest while you clean the frying pan for the sauce.

Heat the pan over medium high again, and we’ll start with a roux. A lot of things start that way, and they tend to be delicious. Melt butter (or schmaltz) and whisk in flour.

Add the wine and lemon juice and stir just until the consistency is uniform.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to simmer. Add the fried chicken and cook gently for about 2 minutes a side. This soaks into the breading, which makes it not soggy but velvet-soft and intensely flavorful.

Top with a small handful of capers if you have them on hand. Serve with anything you like. I’ve had it on a bed of angel hair, which nicely soaks up the excess sauce, with asparagus soufflé, with a small Caesar salad; it really works with almost anything.



Chicken Enchiladas and Refried Beans

As promised, an easy weeknight dinner for leftover chicken. Although I recommend using poached pulled chicken, any leftover chicken can be pulled or chopped and used in this. If you’re not a fan of mixing chicken and cheese (or are a vegetarian), the refried beans I make as a side dish are a great topping instead. Just substitute some beans wherever I use chicken.

I don’t make rolled enchiladas like most people. I make them flat and crunchy, almost like a sandwich, because the first place I had enchiladas was Maria’s in Santa Fe (wow, their website is terrible), and I don’t like change. I like the crunch that these have, and not needing to use a pound of Velveeta cheese substitute to drown all the other flavors in them. And those flavors are simple: sharp cheese (I used cheddar, but a pepper jack would be lovely), sweet corn tortillas, tender flavorful chicken, sweet and burning chile, cool soothing sour cream. That’s it. You could top them with lettuce and/or tomato for a bit of extra crunch and the benefits of vegetables, but I don’t think it really needs it.

Ingredients (makes 4 enchiladas, serves about 2. Which is weird, because in the restaurant I can only eat one. Oh well.)

1/2 pound pulled or chopped cooked chicken

4 ounces shredded cheese

8 corn tortillas

1-2 T vegetable oil, for frying tortillas

Sour cream to serve

New Mexican red chile (or chile or salsa of your choice) to serve


Heat the oil in a small skillet over high heat and fry the tortillas, one at a time, until crispy.

Heat the oven to 350°F  and arrange half the crispy tortillas on a cookie sheet. Top each tortilla with a handful of pulled chicken and a big pinch of shredded cheese.

Top that with another tortilla and a bit more cheese, and pop the whole lot in the oven for five to seven minutes to get the cheese molten and delicious. I like to serve these with tortilla chips (yes, chips on the side of my tortilla-based meal. What?) topped with refried black beans, which are insanely easy to make.


1 can of plain black or pinto beans, drained

2 T butter

1 oz grated cheese, plus more to garnish


Drain the beans, then mash them. There is an easy way and a hard way to do this. The easy way is to pulse them in the food processor for about 20 seconds. The hard way is to smash them in the cooking pot with the back of a spoon. Since I actually like having some whole or only partly mashed beans in mine, and I didn’t want to wash all five parts of the food processor, I went with the spoon.

Add the beans and butter to a small saucepan and heat over high to melt the butter. Reduce the heat to low and stir the butter in.

Add the shredded cheese and mix that in as it melts. Scoop the mixture onto a pile of tortilla chips and serve alongside enchiladas or any other New Mexican dish.

Top with a dollop of sour cream and a splash of chile. It’s simple. It’s fast. It’s appreciated by Mr. B, and crunchy and delicious for me!

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Poaching and pulling chicken

Poaching and pulling chicken is really very simple, and very worth doing. I know boiled meat is generally pale and unappetizing, but the pulled chicken is so meltingly tender it can’t be resisted. Once you’ve made it, you have several meals’ worth of prepared meat that make weeknight cooking that much easier. I made enchiladas and chicken pot pie with this, and there are dozens of other dishes that would benefit from it as well. This recipe is adapted from Rosalea Murphy’s Pink Adobe Cookbook. Incidentally, if you’re ever looking for a nice place to get good New Mexican food in Santa Fe, the pink Adobe is definitely on my list. What won me over there isn’t traditional New Mexican (a whole baking potato deep fried. Holy Schnikies, that stuff is good.), but the real New Mexican food there is the sort of bold yet simple fare I couldn’t wait to try making at home. Anyway, on to the food.


1 pound chicken meat

about 3 cups chicken broth (or water, if your chicken has bones)

1 to 2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic

1 T mustard

salt, to taste

Most people would probably add onion and celery as well. Go for it, if you like. I was out of celery, and Mr. B and I don’t really eat onions, so we just use garlic a lot.


Fry garlic in a bit of olive oil until soft and stinky. Add broth (or water) and mustard and bring to a boil. Add carrots (and onion and celery) and chicken, turn down to a simmer, and cook about 40 minutes.

Turns out, you can't take a good picture through murky broth.

Turn off the heat and let the chicken and broth cool just enough that you won’t burn yourself. (Full disclosure: I burned myself. Oh, well.)

Put the chicken on a cutting board and pour the liquid through a strainer into a jar or something. Congrats, you’ve made (or improved upon store-bought) chicken broth! Now we pull chicken.

Just hold it in place with one fork and scrape on it with another as though you were trying to comb it. Strings of chicken will ensue. Continue until all the chicken is pulled.

Tomorrow, enchiladas!

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Goldfish Fried Chicken

This is probably my third favorite fried chicken. It’s Mr. B’s favorite of all time though, and I think it would be the favorite of most men and children for one simple reason.

It’s breaded with crushed goldfish crackers.

I have to admit, the cheddary crunch is pretty awesome, even though my grown-up married-lady side wants to snub it. As a bonus, it is pan-fried in just a few tablespoons of oil. I hate deep-frying. I hate the spattering mess and the huge pot of oil I just have to throw away and the feeling that I’ve just irretrievably clogged my arteries and the other mess on the counter. . . you get the idea. pan frying, however, is relatively tame. It only pretends to be healthier, though.

Ingredients (serves 2)

3/4 lb of chicken breast cut into chicken-finger type strips

one egg

3/4-1 cup of flour

1 cup of goldfish crackers. Or cheez-its, or whatever your cheesy vice is.

a few T of vegetable oil for frying


Crush the goldfish and beat the egg. Set out dredging dishes. You want one for the flour, one for the egg, and one for the fishes.

Pour enough oil into your frying pan to cover the bottom. Heat to medium high. I decide it’s hot enough when a pinch of flour sizzles on contact with the oil. Dredge the cutlets in flour, then egg, then fishes and plop them into the hot pan.

Fry 3-5 minutes each side. The goldfish will brown nicely (perhaps a bit too much if you stand around fumbling with camera settings). Serve with steamed veggies and a few extra goldfish crackers and a biscuit. (Full disclosure: I did not make the biscuits. Popeye’s made them. And they were fantastic.)

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Smoked Cornish Hen–Indoors!

That’s right, I got a stovetop smoker. Where has this miraculous device been all my life? I just put a chicken in it, and went away, and when I came back I had a smoked chicken! I mean, yes, that’s what the thing is for, but I didn’t quite realize how amazing it would be.

Okay, I know this recipe is useless to anyone who doesn’t have this exact device, and I apologize. Actually, strike that. It’s less than $30 at Target. Why don’t you have one? Maybe because you’re not insane or obsessed with food. That’d be a good reason.

Smoked Cornish Hen (serves 2)

1 Cornish hen, cut in half and spine removed.

To Marinate

some miso paste

some mirin

some chicken broth (you can tell I measure marinades well, right?)

White pepper and a bit of citrus juice.

Marinate chicken for at least a couple of hours or overnight in all that other stuff. Or your favorite marinating brew. Mr. B. raves about Stubbs brand

Eew, raw chicken. Okay. Now we set up the exciting smoking device!

That’s only 1 1/2 T of wood chips right there. Then we put the drip tray and smoking rack in, with the chicken halves on top.

Eew, raw chicken! Sorry, I just don’t like touching it. Especially when it’s all slimy from fermented bean paste and the juices of its brethren. . .

I’m really not making this process seem appetizing, am I? Sorry again.

Put the smoker over your biggest and best burner over mediumish heat (I set mine to 6 out of 10) and close it almost all the way. Wait until you see the eensiest little curl of smoke come out of the crack (5 minutes or less) then slam that sucker shut. Smoke for about 30 minutes.

The most boring culinary action shot ever taken. Right here.

Meanwhile, who wants corn on the cob? Grab a couple of ears, shuck ’em, and preheat the oven to 375°F while you decide how you want to season it. (My smoker’s small. I’ll smoke corn next time.)

Mr. B had lime juice, salt, and Hatch chile powder. I had plain old salt. Well, exciting Hawaiian volcano salt. Butter for both, of course. Wrap up the corn and put it in the oven. It’ll take about a half an hour too, so the chicken will finish around the same time.

Quick tip: to tell whose corn is whose before unwrapping it on the wrong plate, I just put our initials on the foil with a Sharpie.

When the half hour is up, test the chicken at the thigh to see if it’s 170°F (yes, 170°F. 180°F is overcooked, gosh darn it.) At this point, since I wanted the joy of crispy skin, I turned the oven on to broil, removed the smoker lid, salted them hens and let them crisp up for about 3 minutes. Then, we ate. Without even bothering to take pictures. Um, sorry about that. Not even a bitty little bite for the cats remained. Which is why you, too, should be smoking at home.

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