A hen in the flower garden!
Flower garden roasted hens
The secret to delicious flavor on these gorgeous Cornish hens? A salty brine you dunk them in whilst you prepare the other goodies.
Now, if you were a planning person you’d get these birds in the salty pool before you head to bed … then the next day, you could saunter into the kitchen, Rosemary Clooney tunes on the record player, and introduce the birds to your hot oven, with plenty of time left over for a drink and hors d’oeuvres.
But none of us live in that movie. (Well, maybe YOU do.)
So just give the Cornish gals an hour or two in this brine. It will be just enough to take them to a higher love.
Ask your butcher to spatchcock these ladies so they lay flat in the pan. This gives all the crisp-worthy skin the exposure they need to make this golden, delicious, and perfect.
Bring to soft boil:
4 cups water
1/2 cup kosher salt
Take off the heat and add:
One onion, quartered
4 cloves of garlic, smashed
Allow to cool.
Place the hens in a large zipper-closing bag and place the bag in a large bowl. (Neatness is not always my thing, but when brining meat, you betcha I’m NASA-clean-room-compatible.)
Add brine to the ends in the bag, and seal up. Leave on counter for an hour, in the fridge if longer than that.
Procedure for hens
Preheat your oven to 450F.
In your Eurocast grill pan, or large EuroCAST skillet:
Remove the hens from the brine and pat dry.
Place cut side down.
Drizzle with a bit of olive oil, kosher salt, a good whack of fresh black pepper and a pinch of smoked paprika.
Cook until the skin is crisp and golden and the juices run clean when you prick into the flesh with the tip of a sharp knife.
Remove from oven to cool.
Now for the garden party
Toss together the raw salad:
1/2 cup finely diced red onion (or pickle the red onion with my quick pickle)
2 cloves smashed and minced garlic
1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley
1/2 T fresh thyme leaves
1 T fresh oregano leaves roughly chopped
Add a couple of glugs of olive oil (about 1/8 cup) (“glug”, sadly, is not yet an approved international measure)
Add the zest and juice of 1 lemon
Season with 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper, or to taste.
Mix to marinate.
Sprinkle on top:
Fresh Nasturtium leaves
Serve the hens on a large platter with the flower garden salad spooned over top
How to serve the ladies
The Cornish game hens with the flower garden spooned over top is gorgeous, and probably quite enough for many people.
But some people want more.
So, in addition to the hens in the garden, enjoy these.
Make a tomato tart and fresh green salad you imagineered on your own. Below, you’ll see a salad I’d love with these Cornish hens, particularly if I’m serving a larger group where I get less hen. The salad is full of complementary goodness, including pickled red onion, avocado, sliced red bell pepper (seeded and well-cleaned), and homemade croutons … EuroCAST makes homemade croutons like nobody’s business. The best.
Why the tomato tart with Cornish hens? The acidity, sweetness, and texture are amazing to enjoy with a few juicy slices of crispy hen. Yes, of course. But one more thing: It’s Spring. Eat the best the season has to offer, and it will usually taste great together.
A quick recipe for a quick tomato tart is right below that alluring photo.
This is crazy simple. Once the ingredients are near you and the oven is at temperature, you’re done with all the work.
One sheet of puff pastry (puff pastry is available in the freezer section of good grocery stores — yes, you don’t need to make any pastry if you don’t want to)
One sheet of parchment paper
Sliced heirloom tomatoes (if they’re overly juicy, salt the sliced lightly and place them in a colander to let the juices run out)
Red pepper flakes
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A great cheese (a bleu cheese, or feta, or mozzarella — they all work)
Herbs of choice (basil, dill, parsley, or whatever you desire that goes with the cheese)
Preheat your oven to 350F.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on your EuroCAST griddle.
Take one sheet of the puff pastry from the package. Place it on the parchment paper.
Prick the pastry with a fork all over. It’s fun. I sort of know why it’s necessary, but mostly, it’s fun.
Lay sliced heirloom tomatoes over the pastry. If they’re too juicy, you can first remove some of the juice to avoid a too-soggy tart.
Top with salt, pepper, Aleppo flakes, and red pepper flakes to taste.
Place in your pre-heated oven for 25 minutes or so.
Remove from oven and allow to cool a little.
Top with your cheese of choice, and then sprinkle with herbs of choice. And if you have any edible flowers left from the hens above, add those. (See photo. Nice looking, huh?)
Slice and eat. With your hens.
Thank you for eating Spring.