Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rosemary Lemon Cornish Hen With Root Vegetables

This was my first time cooking a bird in its entirety, and it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be! Maybe that's because I started with something small instead of something like a turkey. Anyway, my Cornish hen turned out really well: it was moist and delicious and simple. Best yet, it didn't take forever to cook it. I'm definitely going to do this again! This recipe makes one meal with vegetables and a bunch of hen leftovers.

You know you're starting to think differently about food when you find a neck shoved up your hen's butt and think, 'oh hey, that'll be good for soup!' Time was I didn't think I'd ever be able to handle raw meat. But that time has passed.

This was also my first attempts at carving up a bird, and I think it went okay. By which I mean, it wasn't horribly mangled when I was through with it. After you've eaten all the delicious bits of your bird, be sure to keep the bones, extra skin and any extraneous bits for making soup. You can collect the pan drippings as well, and use them to make gravy.

1 Cornish hen
the juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 spring of fresh rosemary, chopped
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 small white potatoes
2 medium to large carrots
1 shallot

you'll also need:
small bowl
large Ziploc bag
roasting pan just big enough for your hen and vegetables
2 large serving spoons (or whatever you want to lift your bird out with)
plate and small carving knife
kitchen twine
cooking spray

1. in the small bowl, whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together with a fork. Add the salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic and stir gently. Congratulations: you've made your marinade! Set aside.
2. tie the legs of your hen together with kitchen twine, and fold the wings behind its back so the tips don't burn. Place the hen in the Ziploc bag, and pour the marinade over it. Seal the bag, and massage the marinade around so the whole bird gets some of it.
3. refrigerate the bird for at least 2 hours and let marinade. I put mine in the fridge sometime between 7:45 and 8 in the morning and cooked it for lunch. I wouldn't leave it more than 24 hours, though, since it's got citrus juice in it.
4. when you're ready to cook your hen, preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the roasting pan with cooking spray and place the hen in breast-side up.
5. cook the hen for 30 minutes.

6. meanwhile, wash the potatoes and cut them in half. Wash and peel the carrots and cut them in half lengthwise. Peel the shallot and cut it in half.
7. once the hen has cooked for 30 minutes, take it out of the oven and baste. Add the vegetables, with the potatoes cut-side down, and return it to the oven. Cook for another 30 minutes.
8. once the next 30 minutes have passed, baste again, making sure to baste onto the vegetables as well as the hen. Cook for a further 15 minutes.
9. at this point, the hen should be done. Stick it with a thermometer if you're not sure: the Internet should be able to tell you what temperature cooked poultry ought to be. Lift it out of the pan with the spoons (or whatever) and put it on a dinner plate. The slightly-raised edge should keep any juices from flowing all over the counter when you carve it.
10. you can let it rest for a few minutes before carving, tenting with foil to keep it warm. I didn't bother. Serve yourself whichever parts of the hen you most want to eat at the moment (I took a breast and a thigh).  Plate it with the vegetables, and enjoy yourself. It's yummy and warm and simple, just what Autumn ordered.

This recipe was cobbled together from a bunch of different ones and also my mother's advice. 

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