French Fridays with Dorie: Olive oil cornish hens

This week’s French Fridays with Dorie recipe will make you rethink roast chicken.  Often Neil will roast a chicken on Sunday afternoon and we will eat that for dinner with enough for leftovers through the week. But you know, sometimes you don’t want to be dealing with leftovers and even the smallest chicken will yield some.  Enter Cornish hens.  The perfect size for a roast chicken meal for two (plus some for Cleo).  Bonus, if you “spatchcock” the hens (remove the backbone and flatten the bird), they will cook in about 35 minutes at 500˚F.

Dorie’s recipe is simple, calling for a little tapenade under the skin of the bird, some olive oil and some lemon juice rubbed in for good measure.  I added some lemon zest and served it with home-made fingerling potato fries sprinkled with coarse sea salt.

Sunday dinner perfection!

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57 thoughts on “French Fridays with Dorie: Olive oil cornish hens”

  1. I agree that these little babies were pretty much the perfect serving size. That plus the short cooking time plus the all over crispy skin made these a winner for me. I will definitely be buying these guys more often.

  2. Aw… I wish I had found the cornish hens. Although I love packing leftovers for work, it’s always nice to cook a meal that’s just right in amount for two. Have a great weekend!

  3. I see Mlle Michels “conveniently” left out the part about removing the tailbone…butcher Mr. Neil here for that. 😉

    I love almsot any roasted bird, to be honest. Be it chicken or pigeon, goose or duck – hard to go wrong.

    To match the tapenade in the hen, and as it was our first chilly weekend of the season, I went for a wine a little heavier than I normally would. Paired this with a Beaujolais, AOC Brouilly. Don’t think insipid nouveau…bright fruit, but with a slight brooding spine from the Gamay grape. Fond memories of our recent trip that part of France…

  4. How nice having Mr. Neil as your sous chef! Gorgeous photos as always…and I think I’ll be trying Cornish hens again with a different recipe 🙂

  5. Delicious! I love cornish hens and paired with your home-made fingerling fries and a nice Beaujolais makes me so sad that I didn’t get my dinner invitation in the mail on time!

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend Mardi & Mr. Neil 🙂

    P.S. have you ever cooked them on the bbq rotisserie? So good.

  6. Your cornish hen is so pretty and golden brown. This was the first time I have used the spatchcock technique, but it won’t be the last. It does make it roast evenly.

  7. I’m with you roasted bird is delectable any way it comes. Add the tapenade and it really goes places!

    Paired with a Brouilly seems like a killer match. Brouilly was new to me earlier in the year, and I found it to be second only to St. Amour for Cru Beaujolais that really pleased me.



  8. The pictures literally made my mouth water, I enjoyed learning a new word (spatchcock), and I’m going to commit “bright fruit, but with a slight brooding spine” to memory to intimidate my friends. Thanks Mardi and Mr. Neil.

  9. One of the things I love about FFwd is the expressions used for
    various cooking techniques. I have never heard the term “”spatchcock”
    until I read the comments this week. My mother in law always called
    Cornish hens “pheasanette”. Hubby and I enjoyed ours, and will
    being using this recipe again. Your dish looks wonderful.

  10. I used to love cooking cornish hens, but the recipe I used involved too many steps and ingredients. (eg. it wasn’t simple!) This definitely looks like something I can try any night of the week. Oooh! And that side of potatoes look like the perfect accompaniment.


  11. this looks sooo delicious… i have been trying some of Dorie’s recipes as well and so far loving them… will give this a shot as well

  12. Hi Mardi,
    Your Cornish hen looks good!!! It’s been years since I’ve cooked these cute little hens 🙂 I wish my oven would reach 500F!! I have an ancient one…read about my oven dilemma when I made my macarons this weekend at my blog. I posted my macaron making adventure already 🙂

  13. your pictures always make me swoon! Love your dish for your fingerling potato fries, which also makes me want to pluck some fries off the screen to try! 🙂 Delicious looking!!!


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