Boston chef Gordon Hamersley's method of roasting a chicken (in advance, then broiling its cut-up pieces to order) is particularly well suited to a toaster oven. With the availability of Cornish hens, it can be adapted to suit a single-serving recipe as well, although depending on the size of the hen, you may want to eat half now and save the other half for later.
We have run nutritional analyses with and without the skin, figuring most people may eat some but not all of it. The truth in numbers for your own portions may lie somewhere between the two sets of data.
If desired, roast small carrots and/or potatoes alongside or under the hen.
Servings: 1 generous serving
- 1/2 medium lemon
- 3 medium (unpeeled) cloves garlic
- 8 stems flat-leaf parsley, plus a few parsley leaves for garnish
- 1 medium shallot, cut into chunks
- 1 tablespoon Dijon-style mustard
- 1 teaspoon herbes de Provence (see NOTE; may substitute an Italian seasoning blend)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 small (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) Cornish hen
Use a Microplane grater to zest the lemon half (to yield about a teaspoon) into the bowl of a food processor (preferably a small-sized one), then cut the lemon into 1/4-inch slices to be used later as a garnish.
Peel one of the garlic cloves and add to the food processor along with the parsley (stems included), shallot, mustard, herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Pulse several times to form a finely chopped mixture. With the motor running, add the oil in a slow, steady stream; process until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the contents to a quart-size resealable plastic food storage bag.
Place the Cornish hen in the bag and seal tightly, pressing out any extra air. Hold the bag and manipulate the marinade, working to coat the hen evenly. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, or refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 1 day.
Preheat the toaster oven to 350 degrees. Have ready a small cast-iron baking dish. Place the hen, coated with all its marinade, in the baking dish.
Place the 2 remaining (unpeeled) garlic cloves on a small piece of foil, drizzle lightly with oil and wrap to form a tightly closed packet; place on the rack next to the hen. Roast for 20 to 25 minutes or until the hen's juices run clear when the meat is poked with a knife and a leg bone pulls away easily with a gentle twist (a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh should register 165 degrees.)
Remove the hen and the garlic packet; pour the cooking juices from the baking dish into a small saucepan. If desired, move the rack closer to the broiling element in the toaster oven; increase the temperature to the broil setting. Return the hen to the toaster oven and broil for 3 to 4 minutes or until the skin is crisp and browned.
Meanwhile, place the saucepan with the cooking juices over high heat; cook for 1 minute, then squeeze the 2 roasted garlic cloves into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed.
To serve, place the hen on a plate, then pour the sauce around it. Finely chop the remaining parsley leaves; garnish, along with the reserved lemon slices.
NOTE: Herbes de Provence is a dried-herb blend that commonly contains basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme.
Adapted from Hamersley's "Bistro Cooking at Home" (Broadway Books, 2003).
Tested by Joe Yonan.
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