Roast Cornish Hen Provençal

by Joseph Erdos
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corishprovencalWith its classic Provençal flavors, this dish puts you in the heart of Provençe. Featuring herbes de Provençe, one of my favorite herb combinations, it's one of the easiest ways to bring the flavors of southern France into your kitchen. The Provençal herbs consist of a mixture of savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and lavender. Provençal dishes are known for their earthy, rich flavors beginning with quality olive oil and fresh ingredients. Extra-virgin olive oil is perfect for this recipe for its fruity flavor, reminiscent of the sweet air of the Mediterranean coast. And fennel, the classic Provencal vegetable, lends its sweet aroma and licorice taste to brighten the dish.

If there ever was an easy one-pot meal, this recipe is it. It's as simple as spatchcocking a Cornish hen, marinating it in lemon juice and herbs, and then roasting it on a bed of garlic, onion, fennel, and red bell pepper. The spatchcocking technique is basically removing the back bone, breaking and removing the breast bone, cutting off the wing tips, and laying the bird flat. This method makes for all around browned skin and faster cooking time. As the hen roasts, the vegetables underneath soften, mellow, and meld with its drippings while the meat reaches succulent tenderness. This recipe can also be made with additional Cornish hens or chicken.

Roast Cornish Hen Provençal

1 Cornish hen (about 1-1/2 pounds)
juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons herbes de Provençe
coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 large onion, sliced,
1 large fennel bulb, sliced
1 red bell pepper, sliced

Rinse and clean hen. With poultry shears, remove back bone and wing tips. Break breast bone and remove. Pat dry, rub with lemon juice, and season with salt, pepper, and herbs inside and out. Let marinate in refrigerator for at least 2 hours up to overnight.

Set the oven rack to the middle. Preheat to 400 degrees F.

Brush a shallow roasting pan with olive oil. Add garlic, onion, fennel, and red bell pepper. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and toss.

Pat hen dry and lay flat on top of vegetables. Brush skin with oil. Cook for 15 minutes, then reduce oven to 375 degrees F. and cook for an additional 30 to 40 minutes until the juices run clear. Yield: 2 servings.

Joseph Erdos is a New York–based writer and editor, but above all a gastronomer and oenophile. He shares his passion for food on his blog, Gastronomer's Guide , which features unique recipes and restaurant reviews among many other musings on the all-encompassing topic of food. 

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