FFWD – Olive-Olive Cornish Hens

Finished bird.

I’ve always agreed with Linus – happiness really is a warm blanket. In fact, when we were teenagers, if my sister wanted something of me, she’d often put a blanket in the dryer and then bring it to me. If she really wanted something, she’d bring me a cup of tea, too.

Spatchcocking in action.
Photo by Jeannine McCarthy

I’ve recently revised this opinion, though – happiness can also be someone else’s kitchen equipment. This week’s French Fridays recipe would have been a lot more difficult if I hadn’t had the use of my mother’s kitchen shears. Her mini food processor came in handy, too. The Cornish hens in this recipe are spatchcocked, which entails removing the backbone and flattening or removing the breast bone, so that the bird will lie flat and cook more quickly. Though Dorie’s instructions were good, I also watched a video, just to make sure that I was doing it correctly. (I love that there are videos available online for cooking techniques, home improvement skills, dance steps, or almost anything else you might want to learn.)

Once the birds are spatchcocked (you could also say that they were butterflied, but spatchcock is a much better word, don’t you think?), black olive tapenade is worked under the skin. The outer skin is rubbed with olive oil and seasoned with salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice. Now you can see why the double olive is not a typo. I used Dorie’s tapenade recipe, which is lemony, salty and lovely.

Black olive tapenade in the food processor.

The birds cook quickly at high heat, but the half-an-hour in the oven allows the flavour of the tapenade to permeate the meat. I served the hens with steamed vegetables, which needed no more dressing than the juicy birds provided. This dish would be perfect for a dinner party. It’s easy, but very impressive.

You can find many other blogged descriptions of this week’s FFWD recipe here: Olive-Olive Cornish Hens


19 thoughts on “FFWD – Olive-Olive Cornish Hens

  1. I wish I had realized that “spatchcock” was the word for it before I wrote my post. It is an awesome word.
    And there is nothing quite like a warm blanket on a cold day…

  2. I used that same video, so helpful! Dorie’s instructions were good, but nothing clarifies things like a good picture or a video. I was a little intimidated by the process at first, but it turned out to be pretty easy, at least so long as you have good kitchen shears. Your homemade tapenade looks very tasty as well, I was lazy and just used store bought.

  3. Thank goodness for mom, huh?! John got me a mini-food processor at a garage sale this summer that I have used so much and used for the tapenade. Love that little tool! I really loved Dorie’s tapenade and couldn’t believe that I didn’t mind the anchovy in it – it had just the right amount of salt. I’m so glad you enjoyed this one!

  4. I love that word, spatchcock ! Your hens look really nice – and big, too! I used a chicken instead and it was not much bigger than your Cornish hen.

  5. I love the word too – in fact, I decided to call them spatchcocked mini-chooks! That said, I can’t seem to post anything to the FFWD site. I have no idea… no more contact infor there either.

    Oh well, yours look terrific!!

  6. Your hens look great. I love the work spatchcock too! How fun. And these were yummy.

    I’m having difficulty getting any comments to work (including to FFWD), but loved your post!!

  7. Theresa….you did a great job on spatchcocking the hens 🙂 I made my own olive tapenade too but used the green ones instead of black olives and it turned out great 🙂

  8. I know what you mean about the warm blankets!!! I worked in a local ER for about a year or so in college for kicks and fell in love with the blanket warming “fridge”….!!! I wish I could have one in my house for all my blankets! I made sure I re-stocked that multiple times during my shift, it was just so warm and cozy!
    I used the shears too, I think I probably would have cut myself if I had tried to use a knife and it would have taken longer. You found the same video that our expat in Germany posted on her blog! 🙂 How nice! glad you liked this recipe!

  9. I wish I had made Dorie’s tapenade instead of the store-bought I used. I guess that gives me an excuse to make these hens again! I always loved fresh-from-the-dryer pajamas!

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