These quick and easy rosemary garlic Cornish hens are nice enough for guests, but great for family too.
After a rather long and hard winter here in New York, I am so looking forward to outdoor cooking. The bleak and cold weather hung on through May and my heat actually came up Memorial Day weekend, so you better believe I am so happy that it’s warmer and I can do some BBQing!
These Cornish hens celebrated the maiden voyage of my new Weber Spirit over at my office. I’m a real poultry nut so I was really looking forward to making these.
With larger chickens, I either partially cook the pieces or cook them on the grill over indirect heat and just finish them off over direct heat. Since Cornish hens are small, they don’t have to be par-cooked or done over indirect heat. They cook quickly too, but it’s always best to use an instant-read thermometer to make sure. The thickest part of a game hen that’s split is funny enough, the breast. Make sure to check the temperature there.
Wonderful Flavors For Cornish Hens
Rosemary is a great herb to use with chicken. It really enhances the flavor.
Combining that with garlic and a hint of lemon takes it from great to totally awesome. The addition of fresh parsley gives the Cornish hens a slight earthiness too. I can’t say it enough; these flavor combinations are marvelous.
You do have to rub the “paste” all over the hens and let them sit in the fridge for at least one hour. It’s important not to cover them because you want the skin to dry out a bit so the herbs will adhere. The skin will also be crispier. Ideally, they should sit for about 3-4 hours. They will taste better the longer the marinade has time to work it’s magic.
Grease The Grates
The last thing you want to have happen is the skin sticking to the grill grates and tearing–especially if you are making this for guests! Therefore, it’s important to oil the grill grates right before placing the Cornish hens (or anything else you don’t want sticking) immediately before placing the food on the grill.
I actually got away from doing this quite a while ago. My answer is to use non-stick BBQ grill pans. Some have “wells” where the grease will collect so it keeps the grill clean and pretty much eliminates the need for the grill’s grease catcher. Some don’t have that feature, but it still keeps the grill clean and prevents sticking. The one you see in my pics I got off QVC. It’s the Copper Chef brand. What I really like about this pan is that the design will automatically give you the cross-hatch marks (quadrillage if you want to get fancy) without having to do the 10 o’clock then 2 o’clock turns.
- 2 cornish game hens cut in half
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 tbs fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbs EACH chopped fresh rosemary, parsley and garlic
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Puree the marinade ingredients in a blender or food processor.
- Coat the cornish hens with the marinade and chill for at least 1 hour.
- Preheat your grill to medium (450-500 degrees F). Brush the grates with oil or use a non-stick grill pan (like you see in my pics).
- Grill skin side up, brushing with any remaining marinade for about 10 minutes, covered. Turn the hens and grill (covered) for an additional 10 minutes, being careful that they do not burn. Internal temp should be 165 degrees F.
- Remove from grill, tent with foil and let them rest for 5 minutes.