Summer is for relaxing, going to the beach, running through the sprinkler and of course grilling. Have you ever grilled a cornish hen? I hadn't grilled any up until yesterday when I had my whole family over for a backyard bbq. Wow have we been missing out. I couldn't believe how tender and juicy these little hens turned out. After spatchcocking (cutting the spine out of) my hens I prepared a soy brine and let them soak overnight. In the morning I pulled them out and made a peach maple soy chicken marinade and marinated them for another two hours. The end result was succulent and flavorful.
I bought my Tyson Cornish Hens at Walmart right by the seafood and chicken isles. The hens were inside of a cooler case on the floor. I found the Kikkoman soy sauce in the Asian food isle. There is a coupon available on Coupons.com that is for $2 off for anyone who buys a Tyson Cornish Game Hen Twin Pack and a 10 oz bottle of Kikkoman soy sauce together. I printed two of those and doubled up on my savings. Basically one hen will feed two people so I like keep that in mind when shopping. The coupon should be available from 5/15/14 until 09/30/14 or while supplies last so go print yours now before they are all gone.
My first step was preparing the hens for grilling. I spatchcocked my little hens which basically means cutting out the spine. You can either do this with a good knife or some kitchen sheers. Since my kids keep using my kitchen sheers for crafts I used a knife. You just turn your bird over breast side down and carefully cut along the spine on both sides.
After spatchcocking your hens get out a big stock pot, large enough to fit however many birds you may have. I used a 10 quart pot and there was more than enough room for my four hens. I let my little hens brine for 16 hours but you could brine them anywhere from 2-24 hours.
Brine Recipe for four cornish hens:
-4 qts cold water
-3/4 cup Kikkiman Soy Sauce
-3/4 cup kosher salt
-2/3 cup sugar
-1/3 cup olive oil
-2 Tbsp cracked black pepper
-1 Tbsp nutmeg
-3 bay leaves
Bring brine to a boil over high heat, stir constantly, cool completely in the fridge before putting in your meat. Keep covered in the fridge.
After our little hens have brined it's time to create the marinade. This is made of fresh peaches, soy sauce, maple syrup and a few other flavor enhancing ingredients. I put my purred marinade into a squeeze bottle for easy dispensing. The smell of this marinade is unreal, it is so good.
-4 fresh peaches pureed
-1/4 maple syrup
-2 Tbsp Kikkoman soy sauce
-1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
-2 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate
-1 Tbsp sesame oil
-1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
-2 cloves fresh minced garlic
-1 tsp nutmeg
Before applying the marinade it is good to rinse the brine off of the meat. I rinsed under cool water for a few minutes and then dried with a paper towel and place onto a tray. I used just about half of the marinade on the birds now, massaging it into the nooks and crannies. Once everything was doused in marinade I covered with plastic wrap and stuck in the refrigerator for about an hour. This was the time to get the grill going and heated up.
Grilling a cornish hen is super easy. Just make sure the grill grates are good and hot. I brushed my hens on both side with a bit of olive oil and then placed the hens skin side up on the grill for about 25 minutes with lid down. Flip and cook covered for another 20 minutes or until the internal temperature of the thighs reaches 165 (I do mine to 160 and let rest covered with foil on a tray).
Everyone loved it! For my sides I prepared some brown rice (takes about 45 mins to cook) and saute of caramelized onions and zucchini. We had iced tea to drink. The meal could not have been better! The brine made the already tender cornish hens even more tender and juicy. The little crispy bits of skin and marinade with heavenly. Everyone ooh'd and ahh'd over this feast. I cannot wait to host the next party and make this grilled cornish hen recipe again.
I hope you will give it a try! Grilling cornish hens is much easier than I thought and I know you will just love my recipe. That's my father in the pic below with my two boys, Happy 59th Bday Dad! I love you! #Grill4Flavor
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