Got the March 2014 newsletter about beer brined cornish game hens and had to give it a try. I am still pretty new to this smoking thing. This was my third smoke attempt.
My wife is not a big fan of spicy heat, so I toned down the rub with less black pepper, less chili pepper, and less cayenne pepper. I also did not use any BBQ sauce on them as we are trying to watch our calories.
Otherwise, tried to follow the newsletter.
I used Sam Adams Octoberfest beer for the brining, and a grocery store brand of organic dijon mustard base before adding the rub.
Here are the hens being brined.
I am in Montana at about 4000 ft, and the weather was cool with temps at around 35, with slight winds. This created some problems for me in controlling the temp. I did let the smoker (I use the smokenator on a 22.5 weber kettle) get up to temp for about an hour before putting on the birds.
Here they are after being seasoned with the mustard and rub - ready to go in the smoker.
Again I had issues with temp control, with spikes up to 290 and lows back down to 220. Determined in this weather best bet is to keep the kettle shut with large clips to avoid leaks, but leave the top vent open about 80% (bottom vent open all the way). Was able to get the temp to settle in between 240 and 265 (temp at top grate level, not at the dome).
Smoked them for about 2 hrs. Used some apple wood for the smoke. Here's how they looked at the end.
Not as pretty as the ones in Jeff's newsletter (I suspect the lack of BBQ sauce a major factor there), but very tasty! However, they were not easy to cut up and eat - somewhat of a messy process. Probably would not do these for guests