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I took inspiration from "My Man's Belly" blog and fine-tuned her recipe to my liking. No less than a 12" cast iron skillet is required (14" is even better). You can take this into any direction you desire by the type of seasoning blend (with salt included) you use. Alternately, you can use fresh herbs finishing off with salt and pepper. Lastly, the sprouts are a wonderful addition, but for those that can't stand them, though I have not tested it, I would imagine using all fingerlings would be fine.
- 2 (1 1/2 lb) Cornish hens, thawed, rinsed and patted dry inside and out
- 1⁄2 lb fingerling potatoes or 1⁄2 lb assorted fingerling potato
- 3⁄4 lb Brussels sprout, thick ends trimmed, loose outer leaves removed and cut in half
- 3 slices thick cut bacon, chopped (or cut with kitchen shears)
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced thin
- 2 tablespoons seasoning, blend (Creole, Mediterranean, Herbs de Provence, Lemon Pepper etc. amt. to taste)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees with cast iron skillet in the oven while it’s pre-heating.
- To prepare the hens, gently pull the legs out and away from the body so that they become dis-jointed and lie flat on either side of the body.
- Rub 1/2 tablespoon olive oil all over each hen. Sprinke each with seasoning blend to taste outside and inside the cavity; set aside.
- Wash the potatoes and toss them into a bowl with about 1/2″ of water. Cover and cook for 2 minutes on high in the microwave. Discard water and set aside.
- Remove the pan from the hot oven and drop bacon pieces onto one half of the pan.
- Place the chickens into the other half of the pan, breast up. Make sure to place the legs and thighs flat against the bottom of the pan. Put the skillet back into the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven, brush breasts with a few dabs of the bacon drippings. To the pan add the potatoes and garlic slices over 1/2 of the bacon pieces and the brussels sprouts over the other half of the bacon pieces. Toss the potatoes and brussel sprouts with the bacon pieces to coat them in some of the fat.
- Put the pan back into the oven and lower the heat to 350 degrees. Continue to cook for 45-50 minutes longer or until the juices from the legs and thighs run clear when pierced.
- Serve with pan juices.
This recipe is now a household favorite, and it was also a great success among five guests last night. As noted, you can take this recipe anywhere you'd like. It works wonderfully with large chicken thighs, and any favorite combination of fresh herbs and spices. Used fresh rosemary, salt, pepper, chopped garlic, and finished it quickly under the broiler after sprinkling with garlic olive oil. Also, chopped chunks of russet potatoes and red onion slices, briefly microwaved first with the trimmed brussel sprouts came out perfectly as well. Leeks are a great substitute for those who won't eat brussel sprouts.