Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spatchcocked Cornish Game Hens

Sorry for the delay in getting this up, my computer was being fickle and totally spatchcock blocked me.  

As I said in my previous post, if you don't have a rotisserie, spatchcocking is another great way to prepare your Cornish game hens on the grill.  It's actually a great way of grilling any bird (except maybe a turkey), and it really looks impressive when presented to your guests.

For the spatchcocked hens, I'll be using the same Fresh Tuscan Wet Rub that I used before on the rotisserie hens.

To spatchcock a bird, rinse and dry your bird and move it to a cutting board.  Remove the spine using a pair of kitchen shears. 

Flatten the bird out by cutting or removing the breastbone. Unfortunately, I didn't get any good pictures of this step, but refer to my How to Cut Up a Chicken post if you need a visual aid.

Next, using a small paring knife, make a small incision between the breast and the thigh, right next to the tip of the drumstick.

Slide the tip of the drumstick through the hole and repeat on the other side.

That’s it.  You’ve now successfully spatchcocked a Cornish game hen.

Place the hens in a zip-top bag with the wet rub and let it marinade for 30 minutes to 2 hours.

When they are done marinating, preheat your grill to medium. 

Place the birds on the cleaned and oiled grill, skin-side down.  Grill them for about 6 minutes, making sure you don’t burn the skin.

Once the skin is nice and golden brown, turn the birds and continue to cook them skin-side up until the breast meat has cooked through to 165 degrees.  This could take anywhere from another 6 to 12 minutes. 

It was about 25 degrees outside, so these took 12 minutes to finish after the turn.

Let the birds rest for about 10 minutes before serving.

To make the cinnamon sugar sweet potatoes, follow the instructions on my sweet potato post.  The only thing you need to do differently is brush the potatoes with canola oil and then sprinkle on your cinnamon sugar mixture before grilling.  Make sure the potatoes get a nice char before you take them off the grill.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cornish Game Hens on the Rotisserie

Alright, now that you’ve seen my outrageous baking skills, it’s time get back outside to the grill.

I know it's hard to believe, but this actually tasted much better than it looked.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I made my wife Tuscan style Cornish game hens on the rotisserie for Valentine’s Day.  What’s great about Cornish game hens is that they lend themselves to be easily cooked whole, which minimizes the amount of prep work needed to pull off a great meal.

Lucky for me, I’ve found a market that carries fresh Cornish game hens.  That’s right, these are fresh, not frozen.  It says it right there on the plastic.  And at $4 a pop, it’s hard not to eat these delicate birds all the time.  Don’t worry if you can only find them frozen, they’re delicious either way.

We’ll be using another one of The Prophet’s recipes from his book, “Barbecue! Bible: Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes."  He calls this one his “Fresh Tuscan Rosemary Wet Rub” and it’s awesome. 

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 Cornish game hens
¼ cup fresh rosemary leaves
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves
4 fresh sage leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced*
2 tablespoons coarse salt**
2 tablespoons cracked black pepper
½ cup olive oil

The Prophet knows how good his stuff is, so I'm required to say the following: Recipe from Barbecue! Bible: Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades, Bastes, Butters, and Glazes by Steven Raichlen.  Copyright 2000 by Steven Raichlen.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission of Workman Publishing.

You will also need some butcher’s twine if you plan on using a rotisserie.

*I added 3 cloves of garlic, just because I really love garlic on chicken.
**You might consider reducing the salt content down to maybe 1-1.5 tablespoons.  It’s delicious as is, but a few bites will be pretty salty.

Here are The Prophet’s instructions:

“Finely chop the rosemary, parsley, oregano, sage, and garlic together.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in the salt, pepper, and oil.  Or chop the herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper in a food processor, then work in the olive oil.  This rub tastes best used the day it’s made.  Cover and refrigerate until using.”

I decided to use the new food processor we got for Christmas.  It made quick work of garlic and herbs. 

Now, on to the hens.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I realize that you might not have a rotisserie.  That’s not a problem.  I’m going to cover how you can grill these birds whole without the rotisserie by using a method called spatchcocking.

First, we’ll cover the rotisserie method.

Rinse the birds off and pat them dry with paper towels.  Very carefully separate the skin from the breast meat by sliding your finger under the skin.  Cornish game hens are very delicate, so be careful not to tear the skin.

Take a spoonful of the wet rub and pour it down underneath the skin on both sides of the breast.  Gently rub the mixture throughout the breast meat.  Repeat again with the other bird.

Place the birds in a large zip-top bag and pour in the remaining wet rub.  Remove as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it.  Then massage the birds and evenly distribute the wet rub.

Marinade in the fridge for anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.  The longer, the better.

After the birds are done marinating, preheat your grill for indirect grilling at 350 degrees.  Check out my Beer Can Chicken post for more detailed instructions. 

Remove the birds from the bag and onto a plastic cutting board with your rotisserie equipment.  Truss the birds and secure them onto the spit.

Don’t know how to truss a chicken?  Don’t worry, I’ve embedded this video to show you how.  I would show you pictures of me doing it, but I’m not very good and I’ve found that videos are way more helpful than still shots when it comes to situations requiring butcher’s twine.

While this is a very simple way to truss a chicken, there is a more traditional method that you can learn how to do here.

Place the spit over the heat and let the birds spin for 40 minutes.

Once the 40 minutes have passed, get out your meat thermometer and check the temperature.  We are looking for 165 degrees in the breast.  As soon as it hits 165 degrees on both birds, take them off the heat.

Let the birds rest for 10 minutes and then remove them from the spit.  Cut off the twine and serve with pretty much anything.  Now you're ready for your Valentine's dinner... unless you don't have a rotisserie.

If you don't have a rotisserie, check in later on how to spatchcock a Cornish game hen.  It tastes just as good and might even look better on the plate!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day and Nutella Puffs

I know I’ve said it before, but I think it’s worth saying again:  my wife is pretty awesome.  I’ve always wanted to be able to express the way I feel about her through words, but I fail miserably every time I try.  As an attorney and young food blogger, romantic poetry is not a world in which I feel comfortable.  Let’s just say that Chelsi has a hard time keeping a straight face when I attempt any form of smooth-talking. 
I'm not kidding.  I would be better off reading 5 random conversation hearts than trying to compile a complete sentence expressing the feelings I have for my wife.

Every time I try to tell my wife how much I love her, it comes off cliché, overdone, or too simple.  It’s like I turn into Siri and just start spitting off the right words, but without the requisite non-verbal cues that make it feel genuine. 

However, Valentine’s Day is here and it’s time for me to try one more time to express myself through the English language.  This time, instead of writing a letter or trying to come up with a heartfelt toast, I’m going to use my blog and my grilling skills to help get my point across. 

I love traveling with my wife. 

See?  Doesn't that sound so simple and cheesy?  But it's true.  I really love going anywhere with her.  Whether it’s a short weekend getaway or an extravagant family vacation, we make the perfect travel companions and always have a great time together.

To help me say this, I’m going to make her a pair of Tuscan style rotisserie Cornish game hens.  Chelsi studied abroad in Tuscany and I’ve visited there myself, but it’s somewhere we’ve always wanted to go back to and experience together.  For those of you who don’t have a rotisserie, don’t worry.  I’ll also explain how you can grill a spatchcocked Cornish game hen using the same Tuscan style wet rub.

I love how sweet my wife is.  

My wife is the sweetest person I know.  She is sweet to others, sweet with children, and really sweet with our dog, Rufus.  I have never known her to have a malicious thought toward anyone in the world and it’s so refreshing to wake up with someone like that every single day.

To help me express how much I love her sweetness, I’m making grilled cinnamon sugar sweet potatoes.  That’s pretty self-explanatory and she loves sweet potatoes.

I love how much my wife has changed me and made me a better person.  

I don’t even want to think about the person I would be today without her and I need to remind myself of that more often.

For this one, I’m going to be making grilled tomatoes.  I used to hate tomatoes, until my wife encouraged me to grill them and see what I thought.  Now tomatoes are our favorite grilled vegetable (er, fruit?) and I grill them as often as possible.

To top it all off, I’m going to be making her a delicious homemade box of chocolates with Nutella and puff pastry.  I call them Nutella Puffs.

Since this is all too much to cover in one post, I’m going to tell you how to make the Nutella Puffs first.  The reason I’m covering the dessert first is because it is by far the easiest to make and will undoubtedly be a crowd pleaser.

I should say that this recipe came from another blog called The Italian Dish.  The only thing I changed about it was adding different fillings with Nutella other than Bananas.  She was also much more effective with her photography and presentation.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your own special box of Nutella Puffs:

One box of frozen puff pastry

Any topping that you like to combine with chocolate, including, but not limited to:

Bananas, sliced
Strawberries, sliced
Mini Marshmallows
Smoked Sea Salt
Cayenne Pepper

I realize that those last two ingredients are pretty crazy, but I know there are at least a couple of you that would like it.

Special equipment you’ll need:

Baking sheet
Parchment Paper
A glass of water

First, you’ll need to thaw your puff pastry.  There should be some instructions on the box on how to do that properly.

While your puff pastry is thawing, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line your baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Once your puff pastry is pliable, unfold it and cut it into 9 squares.

Using two regular spoons, scoop a little bit of Nutella into the middle of each square.

Place your toppings on the Nutella. 

This is where you can get creative with it.  What makes this like a box of chocolates is that you don’t know what’s in each Nutella puff.  One might have coconut and the other might have a pinch of cayenne.  You wont find out until you bite into it!

This one was my favorite.  I combined the mini marshmallows with the smoked sea salt.  It tasted like a smoky, salty smore.  Delicious.

Dip your fingers in the glass of water and pinch together the four corners of each square.  Make sure there is a tight seal with a good amount of water or else the bond will break, revealing the secret filling.

They should be pinched together even more than this.

Place the square in the 400-degree oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

These things are best eaten warm, especially the ones with fruit filling.  Don't worry if they split open, they'll still taste great.

And that’s it!  A custom made box of Nutella puffs.  Check out the Cornish game hen's tomorrow.