Similar to what I said about Tuesdays with Dorie this week, I also can’t remember the last time I was able to participate in an installment of French Fridays with Dorie. Things haven’t slowed their pace around here at all this week, but this week’s recipe was just too perfect and simple for me to pass up.
This week’s recipe was actually for the Olive-Olive Cornish Hens… as you can tell from the title, I adapted the recipe this week and used some nice, big, juicy chicken thighs I picked up at the store. I actually did go looking for Cornish Hens, but since the only ones I could find were frozen, and I wanted to make this for dinner within an hour or two, I decided to substitute.
Honestly, I’m especially glad that I did. While I actually really like Cornish Hens, I was happy to not do all the extra work of cutting and flattening the birds. I know it isn’t that difficult or hard to do, but really, taking the chicken thigh short cut made this recipe super fast and family friendly for me to just knock out and pretty much walk away from. It was a seriously beautiful thing and I will definitely make this again.
The recipe really couldn’t be simpler since you just take a little bit of tapenade that I picked up at the store (by the way, tapenade is a spread made of olives and other yummy stuff, if you aren’t familiar with it, it seems a little bizarre – or did to me at least – but is quite good). It isn’t difficult to make at home either, but since we just don’t use it that much I’ve never really bothered to keep it on hand – which incidentally, now that I’ve made this recipe, may have to change.
Anyway, you rub a bit of tapenade under the skin, oil your bird or chicken pieces up with some good extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle all the pieces with some salt and pepper (good sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in my case – always SO much better and worth having on hand!) and a nice squeeze of lemon juice and you are good to go. The chicken thighs took a little longer than the hens would have and I roasted mine in my screaming hot oven for about 38 minutes until it was done and the skin was nice and golden and crispy. I used a baster to pour the pan juices that had collected back over the chicken pieces after they came out of the oven and hit it with some more lemon juice.
I served this chicken to a couple of my cute neighbors who agreed to come over at the last minute and eat dinner with me and my chaotic kids and be my guinea pigs. They loved it and so did we. I also made a simple and quick Chicken Rice Pilaf to go with it. I’ve made this rice recipe several times now and it couldn’t be easier. It is absolutely delicious and flavorful and fluffy. The kids even gobble it up and that is always a huge plus!
For more versions of the Olive-Olive (Chicken) Cornish Hens, please visit the French Fridays with Dorie site.
Chicken Rice Pilaf
Liberally adapted from Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home (original recipe was for Classic Rice Pilaf)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup broken (1-inch pieces) angel hair pasta
1/2 yellow onion, cut into small dice (3/4 cup)
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 cup arborio rice*
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken stock (I like Kitchen Basics in the box or Pacific – you could also use water for a vegetarian version)
Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan with a lid over medium heat. Add the broken pasta and cook the pieces in the butter, stirring to coat until lightly golden, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until it starts to become translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the the crushed garlic and stir, cooking 1 minute more. Add the arborio rice to the pan and stir it well, toasting the rice in the pan with the pasta, onions and garlic for about 2 minutes more until it starts to become a little translucent. Add the sea salt to the rice and a few grinds of the pepper. Pour in the chicken stock and stir the rice just enough to combine, only 1 or 2 stirs. Bring the rice to a boil, then turn it down just to a simmer. Cover the rice and cook for 18 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, but leave the lid on and let the rice sit for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot. Makes enough for 4 servings.
* The original recipe just uses long-grain white rice. I just happened to have more arborio rice (short grain) on hand and really liked that. If you want to use the long-grain rice, just skip the step of toasting the rice in the pan and don’t worry about that part. You should also decrease the cooking time from 18 minutes to 15 minutes. Every thing else stays the same.