Cutting out the backbone and flattening the bird is called spatchcocking (aka butterflying). It helps the bird cook more quickly and evenly.
Recipe by Rachael Ray
- 2 Cornish game hens
- Olive oil, for drizzling
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tbsp. (a palmful) fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tsp. (1/3 palmful) granulated onion
- 1/2 tsp. granulated garlic
- 3 starchy potatoes (such as russet), peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 cup (about 2 oz.) grated sharp white cheddar
- About 1/3 cup half-and-half or cream
- 3 tbsp. chopped fresh chives
- 1 rounded tbsp. prepared horseradish
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 4 to 5 cups upland cress or watercress
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 apple (such as Honeycrisp)—quartered, cored, and thinly sliced
- Juice of 1 small lemon (about 3 tbsp.)
- EVOO, for drizzling
1. Arrange a rack one notch above the center of the oven; preheat to 500°. Place a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil for easy cleanup.
2. Using poultry or kitchen shears, remove the backbone from each hen by cutting along either side of it [1, above]; discard. Open the birds and turn skin-side up on a work surface; press on the breastbone to flatten [2, above]. Drizzle with oil and season the birds with salt, pepper, the thyme, granulated onion, and granulated garlic. Place, skin-side up, on the prepared rack and into the oven. Reduce the temperature to 475° and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165°, 20 to 22 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Salt the water liberally and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and push the potatoes through a potato ricer back into the hot pot, or return to the pot and mash with a potato masher. Stir in the cheese, half-and-half, chives, horseradish, and butter; cover to keep warm.
4. In a large bowl, toss the cress, apple, and scallions with the lemon juice and EVOO.
5. Serve the birds on platters with the potatoes and salad alongside.