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spatchcock cornish hens

spatchcock cornish hensSpatchcock you ask? According to the Oxford Companion to Food, “spatchcock is a culinary term found in cookery books of the 18th and 19th centuries, and revived towards the end of the 20th century.  It is said to be of Irish origin. The theory is that the word is an abbreviation of ‘dispatch cock’, a phrase used to indicate a way of grilling a bird after splitting it open down the back and spreading the two halves out flat.”  Sounds a bit gross but by removing the backbone you actually decrease the cooking time, the bird cooks evenly, and the skin is crispy all over – nothing I detest more than soggy chicken skin.  Spatchcock a cornish hen, chicken or turkey.

If you’re like me, I’m not so good at ‘cleaning’ meat, fish or poultry I am about to eat.  I have no issue trimming fat off, however, anything more and I need the help of a butcher or fish monger.  That said, I had two cornish hens I wanted to cook.  The weather has been nice of late and roasting in the oven just seemed wrong so I decided I would spatchcock the cornish hens.  At just over 2-pounds, they would be small enough for me to perform the task without grossing myself out.  There are plenty of videos on the web to help learn how to spatchcock a chicken and this one from BBC Good Food is less than 2-minutes.  After watching the video, I felt confident I was up for the task.

cornish henTo start, grab kitchen shears or a sharp knife.  I used all-purpose kitchen scissors.

cornish hen backbone removedPlace hen or chicken breast-side down and cut along one side of the backbone.  Repeat with the other side.  Don’t discard the backbone as you can use it later for stock.

spatchcock cornish henFlip the bird over and using the palm of your hand, press down on the breastbone.  Use your muscles for this and you’ll hear a snap.  Presto, you have now spatchcocked!   To barbecue the cornish hen, cook over a medium heat 20 to 25 minutes (turning halfway).

bbq spatchcock cornish henThe Culinary Chase’s Note:  Remove wing tips if barbecuing as they tend to burn easily.  If using an oven, preheat to 425f and roast cornish hens 40 to 50 minutes or until thickest part of breast reaches 165 degrees, allow to rest 5 to 10 minutes.  Enjoy!

About Heather Chase

The Culinary Chase was coined by my husband whilst in a coffee shop in Hong Kong back in 2006. We wanted something that would be a play on my last name and by the time we finished our coffee, the name was born. As long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed cooking. It wasn’t until we moved to Asia that I began to experiment using herbs and spices in my everyday cooking. Not only do they enhance the flavor of food but also heighten it nutritionally. Over the years, I began to change our diet to include more vegetables, pulses, whole grains and less red meat. Don’t get me wrong, we love our meat, just not in super-size portions (too hard for the body to digest). I always use the palm of my hand as a guide to portion control when eating red meat. If the meat is larger than my hand, I save that portion for another day. Also, if the veggies on your plate look colorful (think the colors of the rainbow) – red, green, yellow, orange etc. then you’re most likely getting the right amount of nutrients per meal. I post recipes that I think help maintain a healthy body. I use the 80/20 rule – 80% of the time I make a conscious effort to eat healthy and 20% for when I want french fries with gravy (poutine). Balance is the key and to enjoy life with whatever comes my way. Thanks for visiting!


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