The technique of "spatchcocking" is to first butterfly the game hen, remove the backbone and then break the breastbone so that it will lay flat. This method exposes more skin, which crisps up nicely at a higher temperature. Along with Morrocan spices mixed herbs and a lemon rub marinade, this creates tender breast meat and juicy and flavorful drumsticks, all done in less time. Serve with warm berries, roasted tomatoes, tomato oil and arugula.
4 eaches Cornish game hens
1 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
4 fresh thyme sprigs
4 fresh rosemary sprigs
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup blueberries, blackberries or seedless grapes (warmed in butter and sugar)
20 cherry tomatoes, roasted (save juices)
Place hens in ceramic baking dish and pour over lemon juice, oil and refrigerate at least 2 hours. Remove hens from marinade and season with sugar, cumin, cinnamon, tumeric, and paprika. Refrigerate 4 hours up to preferably overnight.
Meanwhile season the cherry tomatoes with salt, pepper and olive oil and chopped basil. Roast at 350° for about 30 minutes, taking care not to dry it out. Remove and save in roasting pan with juices until serving.
In sauce pan, warm berries with about 2 tbsp sugar and ¼ cup butter. Cook until juices are released. Set aside.
Remove hens from marinade and place them, skin side down, on the hottest part of the grill at a 45° angle. Grill for about 5 minutes; turn again at another 45° angle to create “cross hatch” marks and grill for about 5-8 minutes. Turn over to the other side and move items to warmer side of grill and continue grilling for another 10 minutes. Move to a 350° oven and complete cooking for about 25 minutes, making sure hens remain moist.
In a large bowl, mix arugula with salt, pepper and olive oil and sherry wine vinegar.
Place a hen in center of plate. Top with roasted tomatoes. Place arugula with berries on the side and drizzle with tomato oil from tomato roasting pan juices.
Photo: Has sauce of Red Wine reduction made with 350ml of red wine and ½ cup sugar reduced to a syrupy consistency and drizzled onto plate.