Barbecued Cornish Game Hens
Cornish Hens with a Sweet & Sour Marinade
- Cornish Game Hens (1/2 to 1 per person. They make great leftovers too)
- virgin olive oil 1/2 to 1 cup depending on the number of birds (do not substitute with other types of oil)
- Teriyaki marinade sauce 1/4 cup (can substitute with soy sauce)
- black pepper
- garlic powder, minced garlic or garlic and parsley
- fresh rosemary 4 to 6 branches (or more), approximately 6" to 8" long
- juice from 3 or 4 fresh lemons (if necessary, substitute with 1/8 to 1/4 cup lemon concentrate)
- soft brown sugar 1/8 to 1/4 cup
Cut the game hens in half the same as you would a chicken. Cut off any excess skin or fat near the tail of the bird. Sprinkle and rub with black pepper and garlic powder (not garlic salt), moderately to taste. Take 2 or 3 rosemary branches and place them in a large rectangular baking or marinating pan. Space the branches apart not in one bunch. Next place the birds cavity side down on top of the rosemary. You want the bird half's to lay flat, side by side. If needed, use 2 pans. Place the remaining branches of rosemary across the top of the birds. You want the rosemary to touch as much of the skin as possible. Then add slowly, the teriyaki, oil and the lemon juice. Do Not Add The Sugar Yet. Holding the pan level, gently shake the pan back and forth, side to side. Do this in order to cause the birds to slide somewhat in the pan. This will mix up the marinade and help coat the bottom half of the bird. Cover and refrigerate.
Marinate for at least 4 to 6 hours before cooking. During this time you should take a spoon and scoop up the marinade from the bottom of the pan and pour over the top of the birds. A basting brush or a suction-squirter also works well. Do this liberally at least 3 to 4 times during the marinating period. Around the time you start the fire for the barbecue you should remove the pans from the refrigerator. This will let the birds warm up slightly before you place them on the grill.
Let as much of the marinade drip off the birds as you take them from the pan. This will reduce the amount of flare up from the coals when you first begin cooking. You will need the marinade to baste with while barbecuing so keep it handy.
Place the birds cavity side down on a hot grill. Cook each side for about 4 to 5 minutes or until the skin turns golden brown. This will help to seal in the juices. After searing the second side, baste birds lightly and turn over. Reduce the heat and continue cooking for approximately 30 to 40 minutes (this time will vary for different barbecues and temperature). During this time place rosemary branches(a few at a time) on the coals for added smoke flavor. Baste game hens frequently and turn over as needed.
Heat needs to penetrate down to the bone and start back out for the meat to be cooked properly.
During the last 5 or 10 minutes of cooking time turn the birds up on edge and lean them against each other. This helps to cook the under-side or pit of the wings and legs.
Adding Brown Sugar
About 15 minutes before the game hens are done take the brown sugar and mix it into the remaining marinade. Stir well to dissolve the sugar. With this mixture you want to turn and baste the hens liberally two or three times during the remaining barbecuing time. This gives the meat the sweet taste that compliments the sour lemon juice.
When Cornish hens are done, place on a serving platter. Mangia! (Let's eat!)
This recipe can also be used for barbecued Chicken, Duck, Pheasant, Spare Ribs, Beef Ribs and Country Style Ribs.