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