|Competition Barbeque Team|
GRILLED CORNISH GAME HENSIf you've never tried these it's time to go for it. Cornish Game Hens are really just cross bred chickens harvested young. They were originally bred to be single serving birds but these days most people just eat half. I still recomend making one per person - these birds are good. Besides, who doesn't want to eat a tasty young bird?
Rinse your birds under runnning water and pat dry. If you want you can brine or marinate in your favorite solution for a couple hours. This is optional but will improve the moisture and add another level of flavor. I like to use large ziplock bags for this.
Mix the salt, pepper, celery salt, poultry seasoning, thyme and paprika in a small bowl. Taste and adjust to your taste. Don't be afraid to add or substitute. Garlic or rosemary would be nice. Try using smoked paprika. It's your food. Play with it.
Pat the hens dry (If you brined or marinated them) and sprinkle the inside of each with a big pinch of your seasonings. Work a finger under the skin and rub both of each bird's breasts with a pad of butter. About a teaspoons worth for each breast. You can also work some seasonings under there. Rub the skin with oil. I like to use walnut oil but you can use canola, olive or any other cooking oil. Sprinkle the remaining seasoning over the birds making sure you get the back and between the legs.
Dice the apple, carrots and celery into very small pieces and mix together. You could also add some onion or walnuts if you want. Jam all this in the birds cavity. This adds flavor and moisture to the bird. I don't eat it but you could. I think it's best saved for stock.
Set up your grill for indirect cooking with the coals stacked on either side of the grill. Add some small apple wood chuncks to both sides. Place your birds in the center. They will cook 45 minutes to an hour or so. It all depends on how hot your grill is.
Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter. After about 30 minutes baste the birds with butter. Baste again in another 10 to 15 minutes and start checking for doneness. At 170° in the thigh pull them off and allow to rest 15 minutes before searving.
To serve either place hole bird on each plate or split the birds and place a half on each plate. Your guests can always have the other half.