Talking to myself about grilling cornish game hens…
Question: I'm hungry. What are we making today?
Answer: Today, we're grilled cornish game hens. Be patient, they'll be done soon.
Q: It's raining? Again? Why does it always start to rain when it's time to light the grill?
A: It is spring in Northeastern Ohio. It's the rainy season. Mother Nature doesn't care that I have grilling fever. Or, maybe she does, and she just likes watching me squirm. Besides, it's just sprinkling. The hens will be fine.
Q: Hmm. Smells good. What ethnicity is that brinerade?
A: Well, it's got Mediterranean olive oil, British worchestershire sauce, Asian soy sauce…let's call it pan-ethnic.
Q: I'm getting hungrier. These hens were supposed to be done in a half an hour. What's taking so long?
A: Christopher Kimball said you should never trust the cooking times in a recipe. Which is good, because the timings for grilling cornish game hens I found in Cooks Illustrated are too fast. Besides, I'm always saying you need to go by internal temperature, not by time, when you're cooking. This is particularly true with grilling - live fire cooking never happens the same way twice. See? The instant read thermometer says they're 160*F now..time to sear them.
Q: I'm still hungry. Aren't they done yet?
A: Good grief, you're worse than the kids. Here, try a drumstick.
A: That's right. A little grilled poultry to soothe the soul.
Recipe: Grilled Cornish Game Hens, Brinerated
- Grill (I used my Weber Summit 650. Here it is.)
- Gallon zip top bag
- 2 Cornish Game Hens (assume 1/2 a hen per person)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/4 cup worchestershire sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
See my Basic Technique: Grill Roasted Chicken Pieces for more details on this technqiue. *I know the technique is for chicken; cornish game hens work the same way. They just cook a little quicker, because they're smaller.
1. Split the hens: Using kitchen shears or a heavy chef's knife, split the hens in half. Cut down one side of the backbone, open the chicken up, then cut it in half through the middle of the breast.
4. Cook the chicken: Remove the hens from the brinerade, and pat them dry. Put the hens on the grill skin side down, over the indirect heat of the unlit burners. Cook with the lid closed for 20 minutes, then flip the hens skin side up and cook until the hens have an internal temperature of 160*F in the thickest part of the breast, another 5 to 15 minutes.
Finally, sear the hens by cooking them over the direct heat of the lit burners for 2-3 minutes a side, until the skin is browned and crisp.
*Thai Brinerade: Use the brinerade from my Thai Butterflied Chicken
*Greek Brinderade: Use the brinerade from my Greek Rotisserie Boneless Leg of Lamb
*Kitchen shears are the tool of choice when you're halving cornish hens. The only hard part is the keel bone, under the breast. I try to aim slightly off-center, so I'm not cutting through the keel itself. Then…squeeze as hard as you can; it takes some force to cut through it.
*I assume one half a hen per person, or one whole hen for big eaters. The recipe makes enough brinerade for two hens. I can just squeeze a third hen into a gallon sized bag, but it's cutting it close. To cook more hens than that, double the marinade recipe, and use two bags.
*My apologies to Terry Pluto for borrowing his Talking to Myself style in the opening.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
Rotisserie Cornish Game Hens, Brined and Herbed
Grilled Butterflied Chicken, Thai Brinerated
Cooks Illustrated: Don't Marinate, Brinerate [cooksillustrated.com, subscription required]
*Enjoyed this post? Want to help out DadCooksDinner? Subscribe using your RSS reader or by Email, recommend DadCooksDinner to your friends, or buy something from Amazon.com through the links on this site. Thank you!