Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tandoori Spiced Grilled Game Hens

I have been experimenting with different flavor profiles recently....Some Indian, Middle Eastern and Moroccan mostly.  So last night I made this tagine of Chicken with a tomato, saffron and honey sauce. I got the recipe out of my new book called "The new book of Middle Eastern Food, by Claudia Roden.  The dish sounded interesting and I had all the stuff to put it together, so why not?  When I started making it, the recipe called out for 2 teaspoons of CINNAMON and few other spices (odd for Moroccan). I realized   that 2 teaspoons was SO MUCH - definitely an "issue", so I cut the cinnamon to 1 teaspoon.  But even then, it was horribly overpowering.  My husbands first reaction when he walked in the house?  "what the hell stinks like cinnamon?"   Yeah.  Not good.  The meal was awful and I wasted a lot of food.  But hey, that's how you know this flavor profile is not for you, right?  His last statement about the dinner?  "if you ever put Cinnamon in my dinner again, I am leaving you..."   HAHAHA!  Funny, but I actually think he meant it!

Needless to say, I WONT be posting ANYTHING about that recipe.  OH well.  On with today's recipe....

Ya know how sometimes you just WANT a certain food, but don't want to go to too much trouble?  Lots of food is like that for me...but Indian and Moroccan are the two that seem to require quite a few ingredients and more than a bit of time. 

If I have the time and if I am really in the mood, I like to "pretend" I'm an Indian restaurant - you know, the appetizer, AT LEAST two distinctly different dishes and/or a vegetable.  With, of course, Basmati Rice and Naan. Yeah - SUPER fun to make, but it's a lot of work and in the summer, spending 4 hours in my kitchen sweating to death just doesn't sound good.

But what if your craving that "taste"?  Try a quick spatchcocked Tandoori Cornish Hen!  It was delicious and it didn't require lots of time or attention in the kitchen, Plus it fits in with outdoor summer grilling perfectly.  A EXTRA BONUS - Nobody will have unwanted cinnamon in their meal!

Tandoori Spiced Grilled Game Hens

I just counted the points for the hens with skin and only one serving of oil....most of it gets cooked off.

2 Cornish game hens, prepared in a spatchcock fashion
3-4 tablespoons tandoori spice mix
1/4 cup Vegetable oil

Mix the oil and the seasoning together with a whisk and set aside.  Depending on the brand it will be
Bright red or a deep rust color.

The Term Spatchcock is an actual cooking technique.  It means "poultry or game that is prepared for roasting or grilling by removing the backbone and sternum of the bird and flattening it out before cooking"  This explanation comes from Wikipedia and if you go to the sight and drill down, you will see the "how to" pictures in case you are interested in more detail.

Because these are little birds and easily pliable, I remove the backbone and "crack the sternum, But I don't remove the sternum.  So technically this isn't a COMPLETELY spatchcocked hen. 

First remove any parts or bags of "stuff" in the cavity.  Wash/clean the hens.  Pat them dry, inside and out.  Turn the bird breast side down.

 Then with kitchen shears or a VERY sharp knife cut out the back bone.  I used shears only, but do what is comfortable.

I was by myself and I couldn't continue to work and take pictures with my chicken smeared hands...so I have to explain the rest.

Open the bird and put your index fingers under the breast bone with your thumb on top of the breast bone and push with your thumbs until it sort of cracks.  The hen will now lay flat. 

Repeat with the other hen:

Smear the spice oil all over the game hens -especially on the underside of the bird.  Add some salt and pepper.

Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour or more.

Put on a very hot BBQ grill, underside down first, and then turn.  Cook until the inner temp is 170 degrees or the juices run clear and the legs is easily movable. (I prefer a thermometer)  Remove from the grill to a plate and let sit for about 5 minutes. 

Serve with your desired side dishes.  I made basmati rice, Indian veggies and naan from a frozen package.

The result?  A nicely crisp hen that is tender and delicious.  Very Indian tasting without too much work, giving us that familiar Tandoori spice we all love.  This was a winner.  It's a recipe I will make often this summer PLUS I know the Hubster will not leave me over this dish!  Yours wont either.

From my home to yours, ENJOY!

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