Friday, October 7, 2011

French Fridays with Dorie - Olive, Olive Chicken

I took the liberty of substituting two chicken breasts for the Cornish hens in this week's French Fridays with Dorie recipe, and I also grabbed a jar of black olive tapenade off the shelf, rather than making homemade. John has an aversion to Cornish hens, dating back to the dry, flavorless ones served on his Navy ship, so there you have it.

This recipe can't get any easier. I roasted the cauliflower (first tossed with a drizzle of olive oil, and sprinkle of salt and pepper) alongside the chicken (separate pans), for about 30 minutes, took it out and allowed the chicken to cook a little longer, and blanched and sauteed haricots verts in the meantime. The chicken was roasted perfectly, and I was pleasantly surprised by the wonderful taste of the olive tapenade beneath the crispy, lemony skin.

When using Cornish hens for this recipe, Dorie shares a French preparation called en crapaudine ("like a toad"). The British word for the technique is spatchcocked. Neither sound too appetizing, but the cooking time is cut in half. It is also the method used for chicken under a brick on the grill, something I still need to try. With kitchen shears or a chef's knife, the bird is cut down along both sides of the backbone, and the bone is removed. The bird is then turned over, breast side up, and flattened by pressing the heel of your hand against the breastbone, cracking it. It should now resemble a flattened toad, with its legs and wings splayed out.  Photos and/or videos are always helpful to me when learning a new method.  Here is a demonstration video by Melissa Clark for the New York Times Food, and one by Steven Raichlen (Primal Grill).  Steven removes the breast bone, and tucks in the legs and wings, for an even nicer presentation.

After gently loosening the skin, the tapenade spread underneath (a little goes a long way).  The hens or breasts are rubbed with olive oil, seasoned with a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper, roasted at 500 degrees F for 25-30 minutes, and served with lemon wedges and another drizzle of olive oil.

Newf Notes:  I used bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, which were fairly large. I roasted the cauliflower and chicken (separate pans) at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes, took the cauliflower out of the oven, turned the temperature up to 425 degrees F, and roasted the chicken for another 10-15 minutes, until the internal temperature reached 155 degrees F.  I allowed the chicken to rest about 10 minutes.


French Fridays with Dorie is an online cooking group, dedicated to Dorie Greenspan‘s newest book Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.  As members of the group, we have purchased the cookbook and cook along as much as we can. There is a new recipe each week, and we post about that recipe on Friday. We are asked to refrain from posting the actual recipes on our blog. The book is filled with stunning photography, and personal stories about each recipe, which makes it that much more intriguing. I highly recommend adding it to your cookbook collection if you haven't already!

Here's another Chicken and Olive dish you must try:
Ad Hoc at Home, Crispy Braised Chicken with Olives, Lemon and Fennel


Lizzy said...

Your Cornish hen looks fabulous! And you've reminded me to pick up some cauliflower this weekend to roast :)

Lizzy said...

Correction: Your chicken breast looks fabulous :)

Cher said...

Chicken breast = good idea.
The roasted cauliflower looks so good.

Betsy said...

Looks like a wonderful fall dinner. Love the roasted cauliflower. I did like the "cute" factor of the hens. Mine stayed moist.

bunkycooks said...

Mr. B doesn't like Cornish Hens either. Our men were obviously traumatized by bad preparations of these poor birds! We need to correct that. :) Looks like another great dish from Dorie. I need to get that book out and start working through it!

luciacara said...

Your meal looks great - gorgeous photo!

Eva@ said...

What a great looking recipe. I love olive tapinade, and lemon would be a perfect pairing with the chicken.

Anonymous said...

I want to try the brick chicken also! Can't wait for that one! .... Loved the lemony crispy chicken skin too! :)

Anonymous said...

Roasted cauliflower is a great idea. Using chicken breasts in place of Cornish game hens was a good one, too. Dorie's tapenade is worth a try when you have time.