Monday, July 18, 2011

A Guide to Grilling Cornish Game Hens



Guide to Grilling the Perfect Cornish Game Hen
Recipe and wording source: Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet/All Photos: Care's Kitchen

Step-by-step instructions to help anyone grill like a professional.  Cornish Game Hens are great off the grill. Our favorite technique is to butterfly each bird so they can be grilled over direct heat, preferably over an open hardwood flame.

Step One: Butterfly the Birds
Rinse each bird under cold water and then dry inside and out with paper towels.

Cut out and discard the spine. From the inside, split the breast bone using a sharp knife. Open/flatten each bird and trim the neck area to remove any extra skin.


Step Two: Season the Birds
Any number of seasoning options will work well with this grilling technique. The easiest is to rub inside and out with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Alternatively, you can rub the birds down with a quick combination of minced fresh garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh lemon rind, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Your favorite chicken marinade should also work well with this grilling technique.

For any of the basic seasoning options, let the birds sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.

Step Three: Prepare the Grill
Preheat the grill to 400 degrees for direct grilling. Make sure the grill surface is clean and slightly oiled.

We recommend using apple, cherry, oak or cabernet chips in your smoking tray or smoker box, or grilling over an open hardwood flame.

Step Four: Grilling
Grill the butterflied birds, skin-side-down for about ten minutes over direct heat at 400 degrees with the hood closed. After the first five minutes, use grilling tongs to rotate each bird 45 or 90 degrees, creating an attractive pattern of grilling marks.


After the full ten minutes, turn the birds over so the skin side is up. Brush very lightly with olive oil and continue grilling with the hood closed for another 20 minutes.

Remove the birds from the grill when the internal temperature (measured away from the bone) is 170 degrees. The skin should be browned, and the meat moist and tender.

Note: Butterflied Cornish Game Hens are also great grilled with a combination of direct and indirect heat. Preheat your grill for 500 degree indirect grilling. Place the chickens skin-side-down over direct heat for the first 5 minutes, then move skin-side-up over the indirect zone for 30 to 45 minutes



StephenC said...

My gosh, those look superb! I don't own a grill, but you've given me the idea using my wok-smoking technique. I have so many plans, must remember this one.

Priyanka said...

Soooooooooo tempting :)

Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

My husband has been asking for game hens for a while now. I've got a few recipes bookmarked but really, none of them blew up my skirt like THIS one does! Beautiful birds!!!!!! Great technique, too. This one is in the 'make sooner than later' file :)

Karen said...

I just love the idea of each person getting their own little bird. It's such a fun meal for entertaining. I've never butterflied and grilled Cornish hens before...always just roasted. I love the idea, especially that yummy rub getting nice and crispy on the skin.

Kim Bee said...

I have not made these in years and years. I think I must get some. Maybe I'll try this next month for me and hubs anniversary. Thanks for sharing.

Marc van der Wouw said...

great guide to hen's... nice done;-)

Magic of Spice said...

Excellent tutorial and beautifully grilled hens!
Wishing you a great week...

Unknown said...

Fantastic post Jen! Love these tips... and the hens look perfectly grilled. Nicely done :)

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

We grill these often but I've yet to get a good picture. Great job and great tips.

Unknown said...

Tonight I'm making cornish hens with a rose petal sauce, I think I'll cook them this way! Thanks!