I know this is not the world's most attractive picture, and truth be told, the real thing is not especially stylish-looking either. However, this little item is seriously delicious, and I do believe you want to try some for yourself. We fell on it like beasts, and gnawed on all the bones.It is a high proportion of fabulous exterior crispiness to very juicy tender insides, and tastes all buttery , which is great with the tart sauce.
The two things you will need, apart from a cornish game hen, are the sour plum sauce to serve it with, and some clarified butter. You can find the recipe for the sour plum sauce here, and you will probably want to make that ahead. It has a bunch of other uses, including a red beans dish, and marinated, grilled lamb kabobs. I expect you already know how to make clarified butter, but if you don't, I will explain it in an addendum at the end of the post. You will need it-because of the way this is cooked, it would burn with regular butter.
I adapted this version of the classic Georgian recipe from the excellent Please to the Table, by Anya von Bremzen. In addition to the short list of ingredients you will want a big cast iron frying pan, a heat resistant dinner plate and a weight, such as a smaller frying pan or brick. The ingredients per person are these:
a cornish game hen
a large clove of minced garlic
juice of 1/2 lemon
sweet hungarian paprika
sour plum sauce
First, split the hen down the center of the breast, spread it out flat, and remove the breastbone. Put it between 2 sheets of waxed paper, and pound it like crazy with a meat mallet, or heavy rolling pin, to flatten it up as much as you reasonably can. Rub it with the garlic, seasonings and lemon juice, and marinate it, covered, in the fridge for at least 2 hours-preferably a day.
Melt 3 tbsps of clarified butter in the frying pan, and add the hen, breast down. Set the dinner plate on top of it, and the weight on top of that. Cook on a medium heat for 20 minutes, without disturbing it. With tongs and a pot holder, remove the weight and plate, and turn the hen carefully over. Replace the plate and weight, and cook about 20 minutes more. Serve with the plum sauce, and some fresh veg. It is called "Tapaka". That is all. You will be glad you did. I completely promise.
addendum: Clarified butter
Melt a quarter pound of butter slowly, over a low flame, in a small pan. When it gets foamy on the top , turn off the heat and let it sit until the milk solids settle on the bottom of the pan. Skim off the foam, and then carefully pour the clear butter into a small jar or ramekin. This is the clarified butter, and will keep quite a while in the fridge. The foam from the top and the solids from the bottom are tasty on cooked vegs if eaten fairly promptly-say the same day. This is nice to know if like me you are, er, frugal, and can't stand the idea of throwing out a couple of ounces of your butter.