Our Favorite Roast Chicken Dinner

Our Favorite Roast Chicken |via Dear Martini Blog Mmmmm, Our Favorite Roast Chicken Dinner has crispy skin, tender and moist meat, with plenty of roasted vegetables to go along with it.  Sound delicious so far?  But, who has time to wait for a chicken to roast ?  Enter the Rock Cornish game hen!

Game hens are just the right size for two servings and small enough that you can roast 2 of them easily in an average-size roasting pan.  To speed up the roasting time the first thing we do is spatchcock the hen.  Yep spatchcock, a word that can bring about raised eyebrows, sideways looks or even stifled giggles.  Spatchcock is the technique of removing the backbone from a chicken and flattening it like a book.

How to Spatchcock | via Dear Martini blog

Spatchcock’s etymology is believed to have originated in Ireland, where “dispatching the cock” was the phrase used to describe having to cook the bird by taking its spine out and laying it flat to cook.  One can only deduce that the abbreviated “spatch” and “cock” were married together to form a new word.

Why in the world would anyone spatchcock a bird?  The answer is simple:  THE BIRD COOKS FASTER!  The bird will cook faster and more evenly if it’s relatively the same thickness — of course, some parts of the bird are thicker than others; but imagine how long you normally wait for the bird to cook all the way through when you roast it whole.  Spatchcocking works great on all poultry — game hens, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese…

How to Roast a Chicken or Game Hen | Dear Martini

Flattening the bird creates more surface area – which results in more crispy skin and a bird that’s well seasoned on both sides.

The Benefits:

  • Cooks faster than a trussed up whole bird
  • Cooks more evenly – more crispy skin!
  • Allows more room in the oven to roast other side dishes like vegetables and potatoes
  • The spine and wing tips can be placed in a large ziplock bag and tossed into the freezer.  Collect enough and you’ve got the makings for some awesome chicken stock.

Once the bird is spatchcocked, you can then proceed to either roast it in the oven, grill it over your outdoor grill or press it in your panini machine (see:  http://paninihappy.com/spatchcock-game-hen/ Our good friend and author of Panini Happy wrote a blog post about this method a few months back).

We enjoy placing the bird directly on top of some potatoes or other root vegetables —  killing 2 birds with one stone (so to speak).  As the bird roasts, the vegetables are seasoned and flavored with the juices and get crispy at the bottom of the pan.  It’s totally a win-win! Believe us:  once you’ve spatchcocked, you’ll never go back!

Our Favorite Roast Chicken

Serves 2

Plan ahead to spatchcock and season the bird overnight or the morning before you plan to roast the bird.  This allows time for the seasoning to really penetrate and the salt to do it’s magic and tenderize the meat.  For crispy skin don’t cover the seasoned bird with plastic wrap… refrigerating the hen uncovered will allow the skin to dry out.  If you’re a crispy skin fanatic (like we are) wait to oil the bird until just before you roast it too!  

1 Cornish Game Hen (defrosted if frozen)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2-3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil

6 red potatoes, halved

Special equipment:  Poultry shears 

Preheat the oven to 400℉.

On a cutting board, place the hen breast-side down. Use the poultry shears to cut along one side of the backbone from the tail to the neck.  Cut along the other side and remove the backbone.  Set aside.  Open up the hen and flip it back over so it’s breast-side up again.  Use your palms to press down on the breast bone to flatten.  Use the poultry shears to snip off the wing tips at the joint.  Set it aside with the backbone for making stock later.

Sprinkle the hen with salt and pepper and rub all over both sides with vegetable oil.  Rest bird at room temperature for 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight uncovered.  

Arrange the halved potatoes in the bottom of a shallow pan large enough to hold the hen and potatoes; season with salt, pepper, and drizzle with oil.   Transfer the hen to the pan and place it directly on top of the potatoes.   Roast for 45 minutes, rotating once during cooking.  The internal cooked temperature of the bird should be 165℉ when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the thickest part of the breast. Remove from the oven and let the bird rest, tented with foil for 5-10 minutes.

To serve, cut the bird in half, lengthwise and serve each person a half.  Divide the potatoes and garnish with a mojo verde sauce or gremolata.

Cook’s Notes:  

You can muscle through spatchcocking with ordinary scissors or a knife, but it’s a whole lot easier with an inexpensive pair of poultry shears. 

Be careful not to overcook the bird…. we usually take an internal temperature after 30 minutes to determine how far along we are in the roasting process.

The potatoes should be done at the same time as the chicken, but the potatoes underneath the bird won’t have browned.  Remove the bird from the oven to rest and leave the potatoes in for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Roast Chicken Dinner via Dear Martini blog





It’s a fragrance that easily transports me… The heady aroma of lemon oil hits my nose.  I’m spiraling into a special place…  It’s the zest.  Lemon zest, to be exact, though pretty much the oils from any citrus peel will do it for me. RuBo tweets daily about the effects (benefits) of smoking tangerine zest*.

So, what is zest, anyway?  Is it an ingredient?  Is it a technique?  Is it a utensil? Here’s our first-ever compilation video treating the concept of zest.  Enjoy!

Don’t try this at home.

I used to hate to zest.  Now I live for it.

In the old days, zesting meant having to drag out that dented, rusty old box grater, dread mounting in my heart as I knew I’d also be skinning my knuckles, trying to get the treasured citrus peel off the fruit for my recipe.  Oh yes, picking out the zest from the clogged grater holes with the tip of my knife…  knowing I look like a complete idiot when I do that…  right, and then there’s that well-meaning-yet-equally-useless kitchen tip that suggests you cover the grater with a layer of parchment paper (or even more horrifically, plastic wrap) so you can “lift” up the zest from the grater … and presumably some bits of paper (or plastic) along with it.  No thanks.

But times are better now.  Now, peeling/zesting oranges (lemons, limes, tangerines… etc) is a snap.  Just make sure you’re using the right tool for the job/type of zest you need.

Why not try some for yourself?  I’ve included two of my favorite recipes.

Orange-Cinnamon Shortbread Cookies (makes about 36 cookies, depending on the size)

2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

zest of 1 orange (microplaned or minced)

3 ¼ cups all purpose flour

2-3 cookie sheets covered with parchment or foil

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 5 – 10 minutes or until the mixture is light and soft and fluffy.  Add the cinnamon and orange zest and beat for 2 minutes more to incorporate.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the flour by hand with a rubber spatula.  The dough will be soft.

Place a handful of the dough at a time on a lightly floured work surface.  Use a floured hand to press out the dough until it is about 3/8-inch thick – don’t make the dough too thin.  Cut out the shortbreads and place them on the prepared pans about 1 ½ inches apart.  They don’t spread, but they will puff up a bit during baking.

Continue until all of the dough has been rolled out and cut – you can press the scraps together and roll it out as well until all of the dough is used up.

Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes making sure they are just a very pale golden color.  Slide the parchment onto cooling racks.

Wild rice salad (serves 6-8)

1 cup wild rice

1/2 small red onion, small diced

1 stalk celery, small diced

1 small carrot, peeled and small diced

2 tablespoons julienned orange peel

½ cup dried cranberries (optional)

½ cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

½ teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Rinse wild rice in a sieve under cold water, then combine with cold water to cover by 2 inches in a 5-quart pot. Simmer, covered, until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Wild rice is done when all of the seeds have split open.

Rinse the cooked wild rice in a sieve under cold water and drain. Stir together rice, onion, celery, carrot, orange zest, cranberries and pecans.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

In a small jar, combine the garlic, vinegar, and olive oil and shake to emulsify.    Toss dressing with rice mixture and fresh parsley.  Taste, and adjust for salt and pepper.  Serve at room temperature.

Salad can be kept for 3 days, covered and refrigerated.

*Ruth Bourdain is a fictitious character celebritweet with an equally fictitious penchant for deep, dark vices.  Do not smoke tangerine zest. In fact, don’t smoke anything; unless it’s using one of these.