recipe

Herb-Encrusted and Smoked Cornish Hen

5.0

Less than 30 years ago, Cornish Hens were considered an American delicacy, served only upon special occasion, but today can be found in farmer’s markets from coast to coast. These birds are not only phenomenal in flavor due to their grass and grain diet, but a great single-serving substitution for turkey, chicken, pheasant or duck. They are unique ...

Show More

Ingredients

16
cups water
2
12oz cans of beer (or non-alcoholic beer)
2
cups kosher salt
1 1/2
cups brown sugar
 
Fresh sprigs of rosemary, sage and thyme, plus additional for stuffing and garnish
6
1-2 pound whole Cornish hens, thawed, trimmed and giblets removed
1
stick of cold butter, sliced into 12 equal parts
 
Olive oil, plus additional for basting
1
cup Italian seasoning
3
tablespoons garlic powder
 
Kosher salt and fresh ground black peppercorn, to taste
 
Zest of 3 small lemons, lemons then quartered
 
Cornbread stuffing, fully prepared
4
cups apple wood, or your favorite alternate hardwood

Directions

Photos:
Show
Hide
1

In a large pot bring water, salt and sugar to a boil. Once rolling boil achieved, remove from burner, toss in a few handfuls of herbs, and allow the water to cool entirely (to room temperature). Pour in 2 cans of beer, immerse hens, cover and refrigerate for 8-24 hours.

2

Remove hens from brine, rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towel. Discard brine. Place hens back in the refrigerator for 1 hour, uncovered, to further dry and tighten the skin.

3

45 minutes prior to smoking, remove birds from refrigerator to begin returning to room temperature.

4

Gently slide a finger between the breast meat and adjoining skin, then slide a slab of cold butter under the loosened skin – 2 slabs of butter per hen, 1 over each breast.

5

Drizzle the hens with olive oil inside and out, then massage a liberal degree of Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt, peppercorn, and 1/6 of the lemon zest into all portions of each bird. Stuff posterior of the bird with prepared cornbread stuffing. Insert a quartered lemon and small handful of fresh herb sprigs into the upper end of the hen’s cavity.

6

20-30 minutes prior to smoking, load smoker with wood chips, fill the water pan and preheat to 275F.

7

Place the hens evenly across the smoker racks – balancing the bird upon it’s backbone. Slowly roast for 2 hours, lightly basting every 30 minutes with olive oil, or until the internal temperature of the dark thigh meat reaches 165F and juices run clear.

8

Carefully remove hens from the smoker and transfer to a cutting board. Tent with tin foil and rest for 10 minutes before discarding the lemon and herbs.

9

Carve, season additionally to taste, and serve.

Made this recipe? What did you think?
Cooking Notes
Share your tips, tricks, and cooking notes with others.
Thanks for sharing your note!
Once it's been approved, it will display here.

500
Need help? Our Customer Support can help you with any prroduct-specific questions.
You might also like these recipes: