Jul 9, 2011

Less is more: Tomato braised Cornish (or not) hens

Small is good.

But what is better?

Wait, you don't have to answer that! There are a million answers and all of those will be just as good as the one I give :

Lesser the better. Recipes that go minimal are often the best. 

But before we get into recipes that are more or less, a few words about cornish hens
I have heard about cornish hens for quite some time now. Never really felt the need to give these tiny tots a try. But of course, last weekend,  I and R did. I have to tell ya, I was not very impressed (Trust me, I was all set to). But somehow other than marginal ease of cutting the hen up, I could not find much to justify the price which is about five times higher than the ones I get--- organic free range whole chicken. Taste wise they are the same. Almost. And the bigger chicken feeds more and lasts a whole longer :)

One thing to note: Cornish hens cook quicker and look cuter on the dinner table :) Not a tiny fact, in my opinion

But the highlight of the recipe is the recipe of course, which I designed such that it did not over power the flavor of the chicken (that I was expecting to blow my mind). The only ingredient you will need are Tomatoes. Sweet, flavorful, grown in local gardens and should be picked up at the farmer's market. I do not use the word should lightly. But, when I do, it is not meant to be taken lightly either :)
I would not mind the slight extra payment for these gorgeous tomatoes. In fact, with these tomatoes of course, any good chicken will taste just as good and total cost of the recipe will be much much lower.

Bottom line: Invest in tomatoes. The hens (even the small Cornish ones) can be of lower price.
The end result was a delicious colorful and fragrant recipe:-- thyme infused tomatoes that I used to braise my grilled/broiled cornish hens. 

Ingredients for this dish needs to be of good quality, since we are going very minimal over here.

Tomatoes: really good quality sweet tomatoes. I very strongly recommend spending 4$/lb for 3 of these guys from your local farmers market. Do not use regular tomatoes from the grocery. The result will not be good
2-3 springs of thyme. You can use whole stems
A pinch of chili flakes
3 tbsf vegetable oil for broiling the chicken
2 tbsf garlic salt. You can use 1 tbsf freshly grated garlic too
1 tbsf salt
1 tsp of pepper
1 tbsf of good quality extra virgin olive oil. I like Spanish ones
Chicken/hen:-You can use 1 cornish hen. Cut it into breasts, things, legs. Or you can use a bone in skin on cut of any chicken. I would say about 1-1.5 lbs is good
1/3rd cup of hot water
A wedge of lime for garnish

Now to the process which is STRAIGHTFORWARD
Rub salt, pepper, about 2 tbsf vegetable oil and all that garlic (if you are using raw, try placing within the skin to protect it from burning under the broiler. Burnt' garlic tastes nasty). And broil it in the oven at high (450-500F) for 20 mins. Once done, take it out and let rest while you deal with the tomatoes.
In a skillet deep enough to hold all the chicken/hen, heat the remaining tbsf vegetable oil. Add the chili flakes and cubed tomatoes and thyme springs. Once a little soft (2 mins) add the broiled chicken and hot water (slowly release all the gorgeous tomato stuck at the bottom). Cook on low heat for another 10-15 mins. Salt and pepper carefully, you have already salted the chicken.
Fish out the thyme (I like to leave it in there for the country feel) and garnish with lemon. A dish for the summer, you bet

 Happy eating an healthy living!


Terrianne, Call me Ree said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Terrianne, Call me Ree said...

I agree with you totally about not paying more for something that tastes virtually the same and feeds more people. My grandmother insists they're worth it and has them every Christmas. Your recipe looks gorgeous and I can see how it would easily work on a whole chicken. Yum!

You're back in Boston? That's wonderful! I actually took the pictures from my 9 month update post in Kenmore Sq. I'm still here too!

9 months and 10 days pregnant now. When we made plans to meet many months ago, I told you I was feeling well. I wasn't sure if it was what I believed at the time, but turns out I was prwegnant and that thing about "morning sickness" is a myth. It should actually be called all day long, Lord please take me now sickness. LOL. Glad it's over. Now that we're in the same place, maybe we can keep our plans after the baby's here!

I hope you're well. =)

The Japanese Redneck said...

We have some beautiful tomatoes this year. Last year ours didn't grow very well.

You'd luv them in this recipe.

Jhonny walker said...

@ Ree: One word!! glad!!!1

@ Ramona: I spend so much money on getting nice tomatoes. Your's would be AWESOME in this recipe. Maybe you can try it out and let me know? :)