3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons crumbled dried sage
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
two 1 1/2-pound Cornish hens, rinsed and patted dry
In a small bowl blend together well 2 tablespoons of the butter with the sage,the zest, and the salt. Loosen the skin covering the breast meat on each hen by slipping your fingers under the skin and sliding them between the skin and the meat. Divide the butter mixture between the hens, inserting it under the skin of each hen and smoothing it evenly by rubbing the outside of the skin, and season the hens with salt and pepper. Tie each hen's legs together with kitchen string.
In a large ovenproof heavy skillet or small flameproof roasting pan heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter over moderately high heat until the foam subsides, in it sauté the hens, breast sides up, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the underside is golden brown, and roast them in the middle of a preheated 450°F. oven, basting them with the pan juices every 10 minutes, for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the fleshy part of the thigh registers 180°F. Let the hens stand for 5 minutes and discard the string.
Notes: I was inspired to try this after watching an episode of Jacques and Julia at Home where they roast a whole chicken and rub herbs under the skin. I've never attempted this before and I think I would have liked a more even distribution. But it was very savory and extremely tasty. I need to remember, though, that the packages lie about how long it takes to thaw such things and give myself an extra day or two ahead to leave it sitting in the 'fridge.Posted by Jennifer at December 30, 2006 10:29 AM | TrackBack