12.2.09: dinner (spatchcocking part deux)

Spatchcocked Cornish Game Hen with Curried Brown Rice and Red Cabbage Slaw

Like all decent folks, we try to keep things balanced around here, as best we can.  I think a little effort generally goes a long way.  I know certain people take issue with the wanton consumption of poultry and that’s their prerogative (I just found out this word is pronounced PRE-rogative, not PER-rogative- crazy, huh?), and while I’m not heading to KFC anytime soon, and I do try to diversify my diet as much as I can, but yes, I do buy chicken from the grocery store about once a week.  I aim for the middle and get antibiotic-free, etc. chickens but I seldom go for full-tilt organic offerings (mainly because what constitutes “organic” is arbitrary and in my view, not terribly meaningful, but that’s an argument for another day).

Anyhow, as I mentioned here, I am currently digging these little game hens twin-packs that they offer at my local Fairway Market (132 st & 12 Ave).  After my last excursion into spatchcocking, I was happy, but wanted another go.  I knew I could do it better if I just had another shot.  My main issue with the last preparation was that while good, they could’ve been tastier.  I know exactly what happened: I didn’t use nearly enough bacon.  Unlike the Top Chef heroes, I have an aversion to piling on bacon to enhance my food at every opportunity.  I think this is a addiction-prone/compulsive thing, namely once I start, I’m afraid I won’t be able to stop, and bacon is really not very good for you in large amounts.  But this is more a matter between me and my therapist 😉  Back to the food.

This time I tried Alton Brown’s other cornish hen recipe; he has you make a curry and slather the birdies then grill ’em up instead of pan sauteing with hot bricks and pearl onions (if you’re confused, read the last post I did on this topic).  Now- I live in an apartment building in Manhattan and it’s December, so good-old Propane Elaine is not an option here, so instead I used my Griddler.  I have a love/hate relationship with this thing:  when it works, it works really well but I feel it’s underpowered for an electric grill of its size, plus it’s not as easy to clean as they say it is and fat will pool (away from the food, granted) and it can smoke like the dickens if you’re not being careful.  However, it knocked these little chickens outta the park.  It really was perfect here.  AB avers that the key to these spatchcocked birds is heat and weight from the top in addition to the heat from the bottom.  Ergo, it should have worked and it did.  I also made a little extra curry to throw into the rice cooker and it gave the rice a delightful flavor.

I HIGHLY recommend this recipe for Cornish hens and using a flat dual-press grill (like the Griddler or a panini machine.  I think a slanted surface would be bad here).  If I had to make an addition or change, it would be to add some garlic and hot pepper/chipotle/cayenne to the curry sauce and make sure the chickens soak for an hour.  However, I did neither and they still came out great.  Below please find the immortal AB tutorial on spatchcocking the curried game hen prep.  Thanks for reading and until next time, cook on!

  1. Michael, I just wanted to add that I do agree with you about the arbitrary nature behind the use of the term organic. I personally, for example, define organic capon chicken by the fact that I have personally been present when the farmer (usually a female who kind of gets a kick out of it) has hypnotized the bird, slit under its wing, gone in and and yanked out its gonads (they remain a little dazed afterwards and you have to scrunch up the skin to get it to mend back together). That and the fact that it runs around the vineyard afterward chasing the dog. Can’t beat a bird like that for making brodo for the agnolotti on Christmas eve. That’s organic.

  2. michael said:

    Sono d’accordo!

  3. jillian said:

    who’s going to tell Bobby Brown?

  4. michael said:

    My thoughts, exactly. I wonder if the reason that the word is so oft mispronounced is because of that song. I also learned that ‘spitting image’ is an incorrect pronunciation of ‘spit and image’.

  5. spit and image? Who knew? Interesting. See, you guys are MORE than good recipes!

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