Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

November 22, 2017
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Cornish hens with fennel and fingerlings

Start-to-finish time: 1 hour, 30 minutes


What could be more convenient than a one-pan roasted meal?


2 medium fennel bulbs (1½ to 2 lb. / 680 to 910 g total)
2 Cornish hens, each about 1½ lb. / 680 g, split (use kitchen shears or a heavy, sharp knife)
1½ tbsp. (22.5 ml) herbes de Provence (a mixture of basil, rosemary, sage, thyme, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram and summer savory; available in many supermarkets)
1½ tsp. (7.5 ml) salt
1 tsp. (5 ml) freshly ground black pepper
8 tbsp. (120 ml) olive oil, plus more if needed
1 lb. (455 g) fingerling potatoes, scrubbed, but not peeled, halved lengthwise
½ c. (125 ml) dry white wine
2 tbsp. (30 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature


Arrange a rack in the center position in the oven; preheat to 400°F (200°C).

Trim the lacy stems from the fennel bulbs; place the stems in a glass of water and reserve for the garnish. Halve the bulbs and cut out and discard tough triangular cores. Cut lengthwise into ½-inch (12-mm) julienne strips.

Rinse the split birds and pat dry with paper towels. In a small bowl, combine the herbes de Provence, salt and pepper. Rub half of the mixture all over the Cornish hens.

In a large, heavy, flameproof roasting pan/tray set over 1 to 2 burners on medium-high heat, heat 5 tbsp. (75 ml) of the olive oil until hot. Add the Cornish hens, cut-side down and cook, turning several times, until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove to a platter.

Add an additional 2 tbsp. (30 ml) of the olive oil and heat until hot. Add the fennel and potatoes, and sauté, turning, until lightly browned, 5 minutes. If necessary, add more oil. Stir in the remaining spice mixture. Place the vegetables in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and arrange the hens, cut-side down, on top of the vegetables. Brush the hens with the remaining tablespoon (15 ml) of olive oil. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F (180°C) and continue to roast until the hens are well-browned and their juices run clear when the thighs are pierced with a sharp knife, 20 to 25 minutes longer.

Transfer the hens and vegetables to a platter, and cover loosely with foil. Place the roasting pan/tray over a stovetop burner set on medium-high heat. Add the wine and whisk well to loosen any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then whisk in the butter. Cook, whisking, until the sauce thickens slightly, 2 minutes.

To serve, pour the sauce over the hens and garnish the platter with the lacy fennel stems. Serves 4 (half a hen per serving).

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