Lately I’ve been riding a streak of failed plans and missed occasions. I really don’t try to follow any kind of schedule or make long term commitments usually; a random call or a coincidence meet usually dictates my adventures. But when I get a craving for some roasted baby chicken, or decide to put together a beer Olympiad cleverly disguised as “camping”, or any other number of anticipated events, it can be amazingly frustrating when debilitating viruses or crappy weather interferes on a semi-frequent basis. So Sunday was cornish hen day, come hell or high water.
What I thought I’d try given the size of these hens, was to grill them using two different methods for roasting a whole chicken. The first and more traditional is the whole roast method, thanksgiving style. Stuffing is certainly an option here and is much better suited for brining and long, slow cook times on low heat. Then there’s the butterflied and brick method. A little extra prep work cuts down the cooking time to half and ensures a more tasty, crispy skin. A lazy, hungover Sunday is a great excuse to try out both methods. I’ll try on touch on the differences in cooking method and gas vs. charcoal grills throughout the post.
I found the butterfly version to be my favorite. The crispy texture and the help of the brick really made the chicken wonderfully tender and added a great char to the flavor. Plus, a chance to break down anything a practice a little technique is always a welcome method. The whole chicken came out well, but the white meat dried even thought the dark meat was excellent. I definitely felt like a brine may offset that issue, but the chicken was missing something in terms of flavor. Most likely impacted by my ability to marinate both chickens equally.
Boil some corn, toss some hash, and avoid the use of any utensils, both methods are completely worth your time.
juice of 2 limes
5-6 Tbsp soy sauce
3 minced garlic cloves
1/2 Tbsp ginger
3-4 glugs olive oil
2 cornish hens
Kitchen Soundtrack: The Who – Live at Leeds
Toss you marinade ingredients together and apply to chicken in respective containers. 10 minutes on each side should be enough since the soy/lime is so strong. Maybe a little more for the whole chicken.
While the chicken is marinating, heat up your grill. The KEY to cooking chicken well on a grill is controlling your heat.
Whole chickens like low, indirect heat. Placing the whole chicken breast side down/away from low-medium heat. This way the dark meat will take more heat and hopefully be cooked through the same time as the more delicate white meat. 20 minutes on each side should do for a total of 40-45 minutes.
Butterfliedchicken cooks much faster and tends to cook more evenly with the brick on top. With this method the chicken likes direct medium heat. You want to place the hen skin side down for the first 10-12 minutes and then flip to the bone side for another 12 minutes with the brick placed back on top.
It’s important to note, ALWAYS check your chicken by piercing the thigh to be sure the liquid runs clear. That’s how you know it’s cooked all the way through. If you have a thermometer it should read
Once removed from the heat, set aside covered with some aluminum foil to rest. At least 15 minutes for the butterflied, 30 minutes for the whole. Carve, rip, devour.