Spike seasoning (Recipe: Spiked Cornish game hens)
Not Quite Turkey Week, Day Two: An updated post from the archives, with new photos, links, and printer-friendly recipe.
Helmut Eugen Benjamin Gellert Hauser must have had the world's most perfect pantry.
How else could he have concocted his famous Spike seasoning, which combines 39 ingredients (Really. 39. Can you count them in the photograph?):
Salt and sea salt crystals, special high potency non-active nutritional yeast grown on beet molasses, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (the box says NO ADDED MSG, but we'll come back to this), mellow toasted onion, onion powder, orange powder, soy flour, celery leaf powder, celery root powder, garlic powder, dill, kelp, Indian curry, horseradish, ripe white pepper, orange and lemon peel, summer savory, mustard flower, sweet green and red peppers, parsley flakes, tarragon, rosehips, saffron, mushroom powder, parsley powder, spinach powder, tomato powder, sweet Hungarian paprika, celery powder, cayenne pepper, Greek oregano, French sweet basil, French marjoram, French rosemary, and Spanish thyme.
Gayelord Hauser, as he was known, was a German-born naturopath, nutritionist to the stars, and, it's rumored, more-than-a-friend of Greta Garbo.
As a teenager, he moved to the United States, and shortly afterwards contracted tuberculosis. Sent to Sweden to be treated by a monk who used herbal and dietary cures, Hauser made a full recovery, and upon his return to the US, embarked on the study of "food science." He's best known as the author of Look Younger; Live Longer, published in 1950 way ahead of the eat-to-live curve. Though he died in 1984, Hauser's seasonings have been manufactured in Wisconsin by Modern Products Inc. for more than 50 years.
Available in supermarkets and online, Spike comes in salt-free and flavored blends -- garlic, lemon pepper, hot and spicy -- and adds instant umami to cottage cheese and egg breakfast muffins, turkey meatloaf, poutine, garlic shrimp stir fry and spicy chickpeas, beef and cilantro.
Though the package says NO ADDED MSG, Spike does contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein, which is a form of glutamic acid, or monosodium glutamate. (To learn more, read this article and this one and this one.)
I am one of those people who turns beet red in Chinese restaurants that cook with MSG, but I love Spike, and I haven't had an MSG reaction when I've used it. Doesn't mean the MSG isn't there, just that the amount of it used at any one time is miniscule and doesn't seem to affect me.
What does affect me is flavor, and the flavor is great. Thanks to Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen for introducing Spike to my pantry.
Spiked Cornish game hens
Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best, and this is one of those times. You can make this with chicken leg quarters, too. Serves 2.
2 Cornish game hens, approximately 1-1/4 lbs each, or 2 chicken leg quarters
2 Tbsp Spike seasoning
3 Tbsp olive oil
Zest of one lemon
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove each hen from its wrapper; be sure to take the packet with the neck and innards out, and discard or save for another use. Dry the hen with a paper towel.
In a small bowl, stir together Spike seasoning, olive oil and lemon zest, to form a paste.
Prepare your hen. You can spatchcock (butterfly) it, so it lays flat in the oven or on the grill, or cook it as is. Never spatchcocked a bird? Here's how to do it (a Cornish game hen is just a tiny version of a chicken):
Rub the bird all over with the seasoning paste, and place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the second bird.
Place the baking sheet in the upper third of the oven, and bake for 30 minutes. Let the game hen rest for 5 minutes before serving.
If you are cooking the bird without spatchcocking it, increase the baking time to 1 hour.