Grilled Cornish Hens with Rice and Sicilian Butter
The traditional combination of olives, anchovies, and oranges shows up here in a flavored butter that adds a special richness and intensity to hens hot off the grill. Make a double batch and keep the extra in your freezer to use at a moment's notice.
- 8 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup black olives, such as Kalamata, halved and pitted
- 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
- 1 tablespoon grated orange zest (from about 1 navel orange)
- 2 teaspoons orange juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
- 2 Cornish hens (about 1 1/4 pounds each), halved
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- Boiled or steamed rice, for serving
- 1. Light the grill. In a food processor, puree the butter and olives with the anchovy paste, orange zest, orange juice, garlic, and pepper. With a rubber spatula, scrape the butter into a small bowl and refrigerate.
- 2. Rub the hens with oil and cook over moderate heat for 12 minutes. Turn and cook until just done, about 12 minutes longer.
- 3. Remove the hens from the grill and serve with the rice. Top each serving with 2 tablespoons of the flavored butter, letting the butter melt over both the hen and the rice.
- Menu Suggestions: You might grill some eggplant slices and drizzle them with balsamic vinegar to go with these hens. Sautéed broccoli rabe with garlic and a sprinkling of Parmesan would also match the Italian mood.
- Wine Recommendation: The saltiness of olives and anchovies can make the wrong wine appear coarse and too alcoholic. A rosé is the perfect choice. If you can find one from Sicily, buy it. If not, pick a bottle from Navarre in Spain or from the south of France.
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