Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Cornish Game Hens

Don't like to share?  Then a Cornish Hen (or Cornish Game Hen) is for you.  This little guys come in single serving size so you can make them all up the same way or, if you want to share, try different spices and rubs on a few and split them among your family and friends.

What you'll need...
  • 2 Cornish Hens
  • Brine
    • 1 cup of kosher salt
    • 1 cup of sugar
    • 1 gallon of water (1/4 is ice)
  • Chicken Rub
    • 1/3 cup chili powder
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
    • 2 tablespoons onion powder
    • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper 
  • 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 stick of butter
  • foil pan and foil
Cornish Game Hens are usually available frozen, so you'll need at least a day in the refrigerator for them to thaw before beginning this process.

4-8 hours before your cook you'll want to prepare a brine for the birds.  Boil a a quart of water and add in the sugar and kosher salt, stir to dissolve.  Once dissolved pour into a bucket, or stock pot with enough room to hold the water and the birds submerged.  Add the ice and cold water.  Place the chickens in the container fully submerged.  Cover and store in your refrigerator until ready to cook.  Here's my birds taking a soak before I dunked and covered them...
You can cook these in your oven or grill, I used my Traeger for this round.  Preheat your oven for 350 degrees.  If using a grill set it up for indirect cooking (burner/charcoal on one side, no heat source on the other where you'll place the birds).  On a Traeger you'll need to start it on the smoke setting, with the lid open, until the fire is going, 2-4 minutes, then close the lid and set the dial to 350.

While your oven or grill is heating up prepare the rub by mixing all the ingredients together in a shaker.  Remove the hens from the brine and rinse under cold water.  Sprinkle the rub all over the birds, don't forget the cavity!  Place a sprig of rosemary in that cavity.  If using an oven, place them on a cooking sheet on the middle rack.  If you're using a grill they can be set directly on the grates.

Total cook time will be about and hour.  After 45 minutes check for color and temperature.  If the color is where you want it (golden brown) place the hens in the foil tray.  Slice the stick of butter into tablespoon pieces and place on the hen. Finally cover the birds and the tray with heavy duty foil and return to the cooker or oven.  If you have a wireless meat thermometer now is a great time to put the probe in the breast to monitor the temperature.

When the internal temp of the breast hits 165 degrees remove the hens from the oven or cooker.  Check your temperature in the other breast and thighs to be sure it's above 165 degrees.  These are ready to be served immediately.

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