Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spatchcocked Cornish game hens and roasted peppers in olive oil

I bet you think I am trying to be fancy with all this spatchcock and Cornish game hen talk in my title. The truth is it was a Thursday night. (This post was written on Friday). And what a Thursday night!

I had bought two Cornish game hens to roast for dinner, a nice change after all the fish we have been eating. It was a week night and I usually do not have time to roast a chicken, so I thought these little guys would do the trick (thus the choice of poultry). So there I am as usual on a work night, in octpus mode, making my young-un his baby meal, roasting the peppers, filling the bathtub and washing the kids. I realize it is getting later than expected and that I may actually not even have time to roast the hens if I want to fit in an early dinner so that my daughter gets back to a decent bedtime routine after the Spanish Italian hours she got accustomed to during our vacation. So I am thinking spatchcock. Yes, that is what I will do. These days more often than not I feel like the Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, jumping around in a frenzy repeating "Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!".

Sure enough I suddenly  remember the peppers and run to the kitchen intstructing my daughter to watch my son for a minute (even though I only have about 15cm of water in the tub and have taken any small pieces out of his reach). Well, suffice it to say I get distracted taking a picture of the peppers, my daughter gets distracted playing with her friend Scrat, the plastic top of a bubble bath bottle and my son decides to venture into the wide world...

I hear a loud thump, my daughter yelling "Mommy!!!" and I just run for dear life to the bathroom to find my baby sprawled on the marble floor in a puddle of rose-tinted water. I scream, I pick him up and hold his plump, wet little body to my chest. I run into his room and sit on the bed soothing him. My heart is thumping in my throat, in my head, in my ears. He is crying with no sound, the worst cry...his mouth is open for seconds and no sound comes out. I pull myself together and take the courage to look. There is blood (Oh God, why is he bleeding?), but not too much. He cut his upper lip but his teeth are all there, he has no bumps on his head, no swelling. I move his limbs, his cheek is very red, but he seems fine. I fetch a frozen pork chop in a freezer bag and he happily gnaws on it, reducing the swelling. I thank my lucky stars that he is ok and mentally slap myself for leaving him alone. I cuddle him and observe him for a while and then put him in his highchair while I proceed with his and our dinner prep (and swear to myself repeatedly I will never again leave him out of my eye sight). I pull out the poultry shears with shaky hands, cut the birds open, season them and stick them into the oven...and totally forget to untie the little suckers. So I present you the contortionist spatchcocked Cornish game hens! Kinda scary, huh?

Needless to say, we had dinner late. But once my little guy started smiling and all was well with the world again, we enjoyed it immensely.


Spatchcocked Cornish hens
2 Cornish game hens
olive oil

To spatchcock a chicken you place it breastside down (unless you are me!) and cut it from the neck to the tail alongside the spine. At this point you normally remove the spine bone and then crack the chicken open by pressing on the breast and eliminate the keel bone. Truth is, I do not eliminate any bones and just crack the bird open, but then again we are bone people and love nibbling and sucking on them. Rub the inside and outside of the hen with any mixture of salt and herbs you like. I kept it really simple and used salt, pepper and rosemary. Lay them on a baking tray, preheat your oven to 220° C and roast for approx 40 minutes or when they look cooked through and golden brown.

Roasted peppers in olive oil
peppers (yellow and red)
e.v. olive oil

Preheat your oven to 250°C and place the peppers on a baking tray covered with tin foil. Roast them for approximately 45 minutes or until they start to turn a little black and blistery, turning them every so often to ensure they cook evenly. When you take them out of the oven, put them into a freezer bag and close it. Let them sit in their steam for a few minutes. When they have cooled off, peeling them will be as easy as pie (which is not easy for most of us by the way; I was glad to find out the term pie originally stood for something pleasant, thus the expression). De-seed them and cut them or simply tear them into strips and layer in a bowl with very good quality olive oil (this is one of those cases where its quality really makes the difference), salt, pepper and garlic. I cut the clove into slivers (and later discarded them) to keep the flavor more delicate, but you feel free (like you need my permission) to press it and mix it into the oil. Especially if you don't have to go to the office the next morning.

October 2010
Tried roasting the peppers on my stove instead of in the oven for a change. I thought I would save time. It made a mess and the peppers got scortched in places and remained undercooked in other parts. I also found it messy to turn the peppers while roasting. Plus, once they started softening, they kept falling over. The time I saved in cooking I wasted cleaning the stove top and the floor!


  1. Oh you poor thing! You must have been so shaken about that! :(

  2. Oh my, that would freak me out! I remember my tiny son slipping in the tub and opening up his chin! Ugh! So your spatchcocked hens are just fine like they are! Anyway they look delish!

  3. I don't have little ones yet, but I bet that was scary...., I was holding my breath while reading & then to see the spatchcocks all tied up like that...., big grins :) You took us on quite a journey there.

  4. Thank you all for your nice comments. Accidents will happen with kids, as we all know, so you've got to learn to take it easy. I think the reason I was so shaky is that my daughter had a bad concussion when she was a baby (I swear it was not due to my distraction that time) and was hospitalized and whenever my kids bump their heads now I have awful flashbacks of that moment. So I tend to overreact, even if generally I an not an anxious kind of mom !


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