Monday, April 6, 2009

Traditional Herb Rubbed Hens

Accompanied by the most amazing pan toast!

Those of you who have never given the pan drippings of roasted foul a second thought this post may change your universe. I for one, had never been a huge fan of gravy from chicken but I usually used the pan drippings for stock bases and other recipes. Now I am a total convert to "pan" toast. The first time I tried this method of roasting I shamelessly burnt two of the toasts and yet I ate them regardless of the blackened appearance. I couldn't help myself one piece was just not enough; I had to have more. This is coming from the girl who has here toaster permanently set to light; but there I was eating the most glorious toast burnt and all. Since then I have made a few cooking adjustments and now my "pan" toast in the perfect incarnation of savory, golden, crispy, heaven. I can not tell you in any amount of words how easy and how amazing this method is, you will just have to take my word for it and try it yourselves.

I like to use Cornish Game Hens but any whole bird would be fine.

2 cornish game hens
4 slices of hearty bread *I use ½ inch thick slices of rustic bread that may be a little stale
1 small lemon
1 small onion
½ head of garlic about 6 cloves total
½ c. extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh thyme
Fresh rosemary
Sea salt

Preheat oven to 425°
Pat your birds dry with a paper towel
Rub inside and out with olive oil
Peel and smash garlic cloves (you could roughly chop them if you prefer)
Slice lemon in halve and onion in quarters
Stuff birds with one half the lemon in each along with the garlic, onion and some bunches of fresh thyme and rosemary.
Rub the outside of the birds with fresh pepper and sea salt, along with some pieces of thyme and rosemary.
Place the sliced bread in a roasting pan in a single layer drizzle with a little olive oil and with as little or as much of the spice/herb mixture as you like. *I usually just go with a little salt and pepper.
Place birds directly on top of the bread, you want to completely cover the bread.
Place in oven uncovered for about 1 hour and 10 minutes until birds are deeply golden brown.
Remove from oven and let rest for 10 min before carving.

The toast will not be soggy I promise! You will have to worry about burning them to a crisp before you worry about mushy toast. I have no idea why this works only that it does and the flavor of the toast is unbeatable. Serve these little hens with the pan toast and some fresh steamed greens and you will get people begging on their knees for your secret to the most amazing toast ever. (The secret of which is to cover the toast with the birds to avoid the burning if I haven't made that totally clear.) I also save all of the stuff from the inside of the birds for use in stock later in the week.

With Love

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