Spatchocked Cornish Hen Salad with Sourdough Croutons (and pictures of butchery)

I was strangely excited about performing surgery on these cutie little cornish hens. Normally, I’m less than thrilled dealing with raw chicken, but there was something fun about “spatchcocking”, and it wasn’t just saying “spatchcock” every 3 minutes, which I did.

Spatchocked Cornish Hen Salad with Sourdough Croutons
Serves 2
Recipe by Just the Tip / Inspired by Nigella Lawson

Here’s what I used:

  • 2 thick slices sourdough bread
  • 2 Cornish hens
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 1 tbsp golden raisons
  • 2 tbsp white wine
  • 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • 6 ounces baby spinach/arugula mix (or any salad mix)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp good extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt, pepper

Here’s what I did:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400. Lay your chicken breast-side down.
  2. 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.
  3. Cut the Cornish hen in half and put it into a small roasting pan. Do the same with the second hen.
  4. Drizzle the hens with 2 tbsp of olive oil and sprinkle with paprika, thyme sprigs, salt, and pepper.
  5. Roast until the Cornish hen is reddish-gold on top, and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, put the golden raisins into a small saucepan with the white wine. Bring to a bubble over low heat on the stove top. Remove the pan from the heat, and leave  it to cool while the Cornish hens are roasting.
  7. 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.
  8. Once the bird is cooked, take the pan out of the oven and, if you want extra crispy skin, stick the pan under the broiler for a couple of minutes (I did). Discard the thyme sprigs and let the chicken rest for 5-10 minutes. Arrange the salad leaves on a couple of plates.
  9. Whisk together the Dijon mustard, salt, vinegars, and 4 tbsp of the extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl. Remove the Cornish hens to a board, add the juices from the roasting pan to the dressing, along with the soaking raisins, and whisk again.
  10. Set each half of the Cornish hens on top of the salad on the plates. 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 fresh thyme.

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