Roasted Cornish Hens With Toasted Bread Crumb Salsa

from Joanne Weir

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We served a salsa like this at Chez Panisse with everything from rib eye steaks to salmon. Its success depends on the best-quality French or Italian coarse-textured bread crumbs. Toast the crumbs in a 350°F oven, turning occasionally, until golden, 10 to 15 minutes.

6 Cornish hens, halved (1 to 1 1/2 pounds each)
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 cup toasted coarse bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 scallion, white and green parts, thinly sliced 2 anchovy fillets, soaked in cold water for 2 minutes, patted dry, and chopped
1 tablespoon capers, chopped
1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 450°F. Arrange the hen halves in a single layer, skin side up, on a baking sheet. Brush the skin with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the hens until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 170°F, 30 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk the vinegar and remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil together. Add the bread crumbs, parsley, scallion, anchovies, capers, lemon zest, garlic, thyme, and rosemary and toss together. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the hens to a platter, top with the toasted bread crumb mixture, and serve immediately.

Serves 6