Spatchcocked Cornish Hen with Baby Leaf Salad and Sourdough Croutons
- 1 to 2 thick slices sourdough bread
- 1 Cornish hen
- 2 tablespoons regular olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 3 to 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
- 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
- 1 tablespoon golden raisons
- 2 tablespoons dry white vermouth or white wine
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 6 ounces (about 6 cups) watercress, spinach, and arugula salad or other feisty leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon muscatel vinegar
- 3 tablespoons cold-pressed canola oil or good extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and leave the bread slices out on the wire rack to dry a little.
To spatchcock the Cornish hen, get some strong, sharp scissors (or poultry shears) and cut down either side of the spine, take out the spine, then press down on the breast to open it out flat. Cut the Cornish hen in half. Put it into a small roasting pan; you can toss in the spine to give extra flavor for the dressing later.
Drizzle the hen with 1tablespoon of the olive oil, sprinkle with paprika and thyme sprigs, and throw in the unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast until the Cornish hen is reddish-gold on top, and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the golden raisins into a small saucepan with the vermouth or white wine. Bring to a bubble over low heat on the stove top. Remove the pan from the heat, and leave for about 10 minutes or, better still, leave it to cool while the Cornish hen is roasting.
Toast the pine nuts in a hot, dry frying pan over low heat until golden. Remove the pine nuts from the pan to a small bowl. Slice the crusts from the bread and cut into croutons. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in the frying pan and fry the croutons until golden and crisp. Remove to a plate.
Once the bird is cooked, take the pan out of the oven and let stand for 5 to 10 minutes. Discard the spine and thyme sprigs. Arrange the salad leaves on a couple of plates.
Whisk together the Dijon mustard, salt, vinegar, and 3 tablespoons of the cold-pressed canola or extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl. Remove the Cornish hen and garlic cloves to a board, add the juices from the roasting pan to the dressing, and whisk again. If you want to get every last bit of pan-flavor out, add a little hot water from a recently boiled kettle and swirl it around the pan Add this liquid to the dressing, then whisk in the soused golden raisins.
Set each half of Cornish hen on top of the salad on the plates and add 2 garlic cloves (provided they don't look too burned, though scorched and caramelly is good). Give the dressing a final whisk and pour it over the hen and the salad. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, croutons, and a few fresh sprigs of thyme.
Make Ahead Note:
Cornish hen can be spatchcocked 1 day ahead. Put in roasting pan and covered tightly with plastic wrap. Store in the refrigerator.
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