11 November 2010

Cornish hen in a salt dome

I was very disappointed this weekend to discover that Iowa Meat Farms doesn't routinely stock squab. Go figure.

What's a guy to do when he's planned to make squab, but there is no squab to be had?  Apparently, the answer is Cornish hen.  Oh yeah, baby.

Raw cornish hen

And conveniently, one of my favourite bloggers, Hank Shaw, has recently posted a recipe for a small bird cooked in a salt dome.  I love salt.  I love domes.  Done:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 Cornish hens
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
bunch of fresh thyme
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sweet paprika
2 pounds kosher salt
Remove the completely thawed hens from the fridge thirty minutes prior to cooking. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Dry off the Cornish hens. Heat the oil over high heat in a large pan, and brown the hens in the hot oil on all sides.

Browning cornish hen

Mix enough water with the salt to create a slurry of salt that can be packed. If you add too much water, just add more salt. You want a nice soft clay texture, not a mushy soup.

Lay down a layer of half an inch of salt on the bottom of a baking pan.

Season the Cornish hens with the paprika and pepper.  Stuff the insides of the hens with the rosemary and thyme.  And pack 'em in the salt.  You want to cover them with at least half an inch of salt.

Bake 'em for about 40 minutes.

Salt dome hen

 Remove from oven, and after resting a few minutes, crack off the salt dome, now hardened into a contiguous crust.

Cooked hen

Brush off the excess salt with a basting brush, carve and serve.

I will merely quote Mrs. Dude: "Oh my! The rosemary! This is amazing!" Thanks, Hank.


Hunter Angler Gardener Cook said...

Looks great! Glad you tried this with Cornish hens, too. I rarely use them these days, but cooked them a lot years ago.


Bbq Dude said...


Thanks! It was good fun doing this with Cornish hens. In addition to a tasty meal, it's quite a show to crack open a salt crust over the meat in front of guests.

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