Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cornish hens on the grill

By Victoria Abbott aka Victoria and Mary Jane Maffini

This is a speedy new take on two of our old favorites: the grill (yay summer!) and Cornish game hens (yay anytime!).  This is also birthday month for Victoria and in our family we like to make birthdays last and have more than one special meal. So MJ invited Victoria for marinated Cornish game hens on the grill this week, because that seemed like one nice way to have a little celebration.  The weather was beautiful and perfect for dinner on the deck.  These grilled hens are an adaptation of a Lucy Waverman recipe. Thanks for the inspiration!

Cornish hens are like a one-serving chicken (or chicken for one). We are finding that some people are overwhelmed by the idea of an entire chicken (even a small one). If so, it's easy to give them one-half, or serve the white and hold the leg and thigh.  There are always seconds and if not, they are great as leftovers.  

Here’s our own marinade:  
¼ cup olive oil
Juice of one lime
1 clove garlic slivered
1 shallot coarsely chopped
2 sprigs (or more) fresh rosemary
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon maple syrup
S & P to suit yourself
3 to 4 Cornish hens

Combine marinade ingredients.  

Cut hens through the back and remove bony bit of back.  Slice part way through breastbone and flatten hens. 

Marinate hens from four to twenty-four hours.   

Pre-heat your grill to 350 F.  We use a charcoal grill/smoker.  We will try it at 325 next time we cook these (and we will) as one of the hens got a bit too dark.  It didn't burn and was still tasty though. Maybe we'll brown for a little less time. Live and learn!

Remove hens from marinade and place skin side down on grill for ten minutes or until nice browned. Weigh down the birds with a cast iron pan (or a brick). Flattening the birds allows them to grill quickly and yet remain crispy (juicy too).  We didn't have a brick so we used the lid from a cast iron Dutch oven AND a cast iron frying pan.

They looked weird but did the trick. When skin is brown, flip birds and cook for another 15 minutes until cooked through.

Test with a meat thermometer for poultry.  Let hens rest for 5 minutes and then serve.

We served ours with orzo salad (recipe to come soon!) and grilled asparagus.  

It was a simple meal, much easier than pie, and we enjoyed eating outside on a lovely June evening. 

That shadowy figure known as Victoria Abbott is actually us, the mother and daughter team of Mary Jane Maffini and Victoria Maffini.  We write the book collector mysteries.  Victoria's birthday isn't all that we're celebrating. 

Every since we first saw the  cover for The Marsh Madness (the fourth book collector mystery) we felt like dancing.  It's out in September, but you can pre-order it NOW  either here or through your favorite bookstore.

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  1. The Cornish hens look amazing! I'm getting hungry just looking at them. Thank you for sharing the recipe.

    1. Thanks, Jen! I'm glad you like the look of them. So happy you came by (and very early in the am!) Hugs. MJ

  2. Thanks for sharing! I love new recipes for the grill, and I'm adding these to my list of summer dinner ideas. :-) Happy birthday to Victoria (we celebrate all month long around our house, too!). Also, I'm very much looking forward to The Marsh Madness (which I think I pre-ordered on the first day it was available!).

    1. I hope you enjoy this idea on the grill, Nicole. It's nice to be part of a group that celebrates all month long. We should have a club!

      Thanks for coming by!



  3. Happy birthday Victoria! What a perfect dinner--MJ next time invite us all over?

  4. I'll pass on the wishes, Lucy/Roberta! I wish you were close enough to come for dinner. That would be wonderful,



  5. Absolutely gorgeous!! And happy birthday, Victoria. May the year fill you with love, laughter and lots of success!

    Daryl - Avery