Dinner in a Dash: Series Debuts With Butterflied Cornish Game Hen, Garlic Roasted Potato Wedges
Nifty food tips and recipes to make planning fabulous weekday meals a breeze.
Welcome to "Dinner in a Dash," a new series of columns featuring nifty tips and recipes for delicious and healthy dinners that busy home cooks can easily prepare on hectic weeknights.
Nothing beats a scrumptious home-cooked meal made with love. But with so many things competing for our time these days, it can be quite challenging to resist the allure of the golden arches and other fast food icons along Route 6.
A well-stocked pantry makes getting fabulous weeknight suppers to the table a lot easier. Plus it helps keep those exasperating last-minute trips to the market at bay.
Which staples should busy home cooks have on hand to make menu planning and meal preparation a breeze? They are:
- Chicken stock: This is a great item for making quick soups and sauces. Buy the low-sodium version to reduce your salt intake.
- Canned goods: Beans such as pinto, black, great northern and chickpeas may be drained and rinsed and tossed into salads. In addition to the usual spaghetti sauce, tomatoes and tomato paste are great for adding to stews, casseroles and soups. Keep tuna fish and salmon in the pantry for delicious fish cakes and sandwich fillings. Olives and capers can be used to make a quick tapenade and for adding to sauces, stews, and casseroles.
- Potatoes: The white and sweet varieties are ideal to have on hand for an endless variety of delicious sides.
- Garlic: This aromatic vegetable adds lots of flavor to dishes.
- Onions: This vegetable is another "must have" in a well-stocked pantry.
- Lemons: Whether you use just a few drops or a whole lemon's worth, lemon juice adds acidity and brightness to dishes, from dressings to soups and cakes.
- Vegetables: Bagged salads, broccoli, cauliflower and bell peppers are good winter produce. I also like to keep bags of mixed frozen vegetables available. They're the next best thing to fresh and save the expense of tossing out spoiled fresh veggies.
- Eggs: Perfect for those times when you feel like having breakfast for dinner. Whip up a frittata and toss in leftover vegetables for a quick and delicious weekday meal.
- Dairy: Milk, evaporated milk, half & half, sour cream and butter are good items to keep on hand. Store unsalted butter in the freezer to prevent it from spoiling.
- Cheese: Blocks of cheese such as havarti and a sharp cheddar are good to have available for quick meals. Keeping bags of shredded cheese in the freezer saves valuable time in the kitchen.
- Frozen meats/fish/poultry: Chicken parts, whole chickens, fish fillets such as salmon and flounder, and shrimp and scallops are the basis of many interesting meals.
- Pasta, rice: Pasta dishes make delicious comfort food and many sauces can be finished while the pasta is cooking. Long-grain, short-grain, wild and brown rice are also good to keep in the pantry for winter meals.
- Spices: Salt, pepper, granulated garlic, onion powder, sweet basil, rosemary, oregano and cumin provide a great jumping off point for seasoning dishes. Add others such as Old Bay seasoning, curry powders and cayenne pepper down the line.
- Oils: Extra virgin olive oil and canola oil are healthy oils to keep in the pantry.
And now on to the menu for tonight's "Dinner in a Dash:"
Menu: Butterflied Rock Cornish Hens with Garlic-roasted Potato Wedges and Broccoli
Ingredients you'll need: Cornish hens, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, dried rosemary, granulated garlic, russet potatoes, fresh broccoli
How to Prepare: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. We're going to butterfly the Cornish hens to reduce the cooking time. (Besides, there's something about a flat chicken that adds to the appeal of the dish.) Using a sharp knife, carefully remove the backbones. Place the hens on a roasting pan. Carefully loosen the skin over the breast and tuck softened butter underneath the skin. (This will keep the breast meat moist.) The hen will now be able to lie flat on the pan. Rub the skin with softened butter. Sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper, granulated garlic and rosemary. Place in the oven and roast, uncovered, for about 25-30 minutes, basting occasionally with the juices that form during cooking. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil and allow the hens to rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Meanwhile, while the hens are cooking, slice russet potatoes in half length-wise. (Allow one potato per person.) Then slice each half into thirds. You will now have six generously-sized potato wedges per potato. Transfer potatoes to a sheet plan.
Rinse and pat dry the broccoli. Cut the broccoli length-wise to separate into serving-sized portions. Add the broccoli to the sheet pan with the potatoes.
Sprinkle the potato wedges and broccoli with olive oil, salt, pepper, granulated garlic and dried rosemary. Roast, uncovered, at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes. Occasionally turn over the potatoes for even browning.
To serve, arrange Cornish hens, potato wedges and broccoli on a platter. Pour pan juices over the hens and enjoy!