Ginger and Lime Spatchcock Cornish Game Hens
Reprinted with permission. Perfect Plates in 5 Ingredients by John Whaite. Photography by Helen Cathcart. Published by Kyle Books, © 2016
- Servings: 2
From Perfect Plates in Five Ingredients by John Whaite.
He wrote, "While a roast chicken is hard to compete with, these miniature versions are strong contenders: each person gets a full bird each, so it feels particularly fulfilling and grand. The trick to getting a lusciously golden, crispy-skinned game hen, is to fry it before smothering it in sauce and roasting it. You could serve this with rice, but for me, one of these on its own is just about enough. I like to tear the flesh from the bones and dunk it into the sauce—using my fingers, of course."
- 2 Cornish game hens
- 1 finger-sized piece of fresh root ginger
- Heaping 1/2 cup honey
- 3 1/2 tablespoons light soy sauce
- 1 lime
- Coarse black pepper
- Olive oil
- To prepare the game hens, untruss them, and remove the backbones with a sharp pair of kitchen scissors or a knife— cut to one side of the spine, from the parson’s nose up to where the head would have been, and then repeat on the other side. Discard the backbone, lay the hens, skin-side up, on a work surface, and press heavily on the breastbone to flatten out the birds. Set aside until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- For the sauce, peel and finely grate the ginger, then add it to a saucepan with the honey, soy sauce, zest and juice of the lime, and a pinch of pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring to mix well, then remove from the heat, and set aside until needed.
- Place a large, ovenproof skillet or shallow Dutch oven over high heat, and add 1 tablespoon oil. Once the oil is hot, add the game hens, skin-side down, and reduce the heat to medium. Cover with a piece of parchment paper, and weigh down with something heavy—another pan works well; the idea is to keep the birds as flat as possible. Fry for 5 minutes, then flip them over (discard the parchment paper). Pour over the sauce, and roast in the oven, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until cooked through, and the top is burnished and bubbling.
Variation: If you can't get hold of Cornish game hens, just use 4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, frying those for only 3 minutes, before smothering in the sauce and roasting.