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Questions on Cornish Hens

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 

I have red up on Cornish Hens on this website, plus on the free smoking course.  But still have a couple of questions.  Okay I was thinking of Brining the 4 Cornish Hens for aboyt 4 hours.  Then take them out and rinse if the Brine.  Then put them in a then put them in a Brown Surgar Bourbon Marinade for approx. 12 hours.  Then smoke them for about 3 hours until about 165 temp.  Would doning the Brine, then Marinade be okay?  Would the mosture be okay for the Cornish Hens?


Then I thougt I would Smoke them on Hickory wood logs and Cherry Chips.  I have Apple Chips, but was told the Hickory over powers the Apple, so was wondering if it would on the Cherry as well?   I have read on the forums here that people thing the best is Mesquite Wood for chicken.  But no place locally sells Mesquite Logs.  Walmart does sell Mesquite Chunks and chips, but there kinda small bags and cost adds up.




Thank You for any suggestions and help!





post #2 of 13

I just did some game hens on Sun and didn't brine or marinade, if you bring the white meat to 165 degrees and don't overcook past there, it won't be dry.  So in my opinion you won't need to brine or marinade, but if you're convinced you need to do these I'd try one and stick to it.  Otherwise you have brine and marinade as competing flavors and especially when combined with your rub and eventually sauce may have way too much going on.  Just my 2 cents. 

post #3 of 13

Marinading after brining will actually remove some of the brining effect, which in essence is infusing flavor and moisture from the brine. Brining infuses the meats cells with flavor and moisture through the process of osmosis. Ill try to explain how brining works and why you dont want to marinade afterwards. If it doesnt make a lot of sense, i apologize as i am tired and about to fall asleep. When you soak meat in water with salt, osmosis causes the salt and water content within the meat and the salt and water content you put the meat into to even out. It evens outs by transfering the salt water solution through the cell walls. Anything you add into the brine, like sugar, spices, etc.... will pass into the meat with it. So if you brine a piece of meat and then marinade it, you will actually wind up drawing some moisture out of the meat and drawing out the flavor you put into the meat when you brined it. The reason this happens is because now your meat has a high water and salt content (along with other flavors that you put in your brine), and when you put that meat in a marinade, osmosis begins to take place again wanting to even out the water and salt content in the meat and your marinade. When this happens, it is actually drawing some moisture and flavor out of the meat. Take your idea of brining and marinading and just combine them basically. If you wanted to do a marinade with a lot of garlic and cayenne pepper for example, just add it into your brine and it will infuse into your meat. This is how i understand it to the best of my knowledge. Hope it helps!

post #4 of 13

Here's a wiki on poultry brining. Go easy on your first birds and stick with apple or cherry, something safe. Don't go by time but by temp, basically get a good therm, 165* is a good temp, let them rest for an hour and enjoy. Remember the TBS aka "Thin Blue Smoke"



post #5 of 13
Could u add the Bourbon and brown sugar in brine.
post #6 of 13


Originally Posted by coronaca92879 View Post

Could u add the Bourbon and brown sugar in brine.

Yes, you can add that or any other ingredients, I personally add various citrus juice and fresh rosemary, just my preference.Sugar will give the bird a very dark appearance after smoking but will taste awesome, will just look burn't.

post #7 of 13

for me......again, "for me", 4 hrs on those lil' birds is too long if you have a strong (salty) brine and if you were to marinade them for 12 hours and not brine is again too long. as for what wood to smoke i would use cherry, apple or pecan............again, that is just me, but then i like to taste the original flavor of the meat that i started with. if you start at a mild or modest baseline, it is easy to build on what you like.

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 


Originally Posted by meateater View Post

Here's a wiki on poultry brining. Go easy on your first birds and stick with apple or cherry, something safe.



The problem is I only have Apple and Cherry chips.  There is no place around locally to buy any Apple or Cherry logs or chunks. I have found places to order logs and chunks off the Internet, but the shipping and handling is a killer!   I do however have bunch of Hickory Logs.  So I guss I will stick with the Hickory this time, till I get the money to buy apple and cherry logs or chunks somewhere else.


Disbe81, thanks for your information on brining and marinade, very helpful.  I will just do the brine, but mixed in the brown sugar and Bourbon like Coronaca92879 Meateater suggested.  Looks like I will be experimenting this weekend!




Thank You



post #9 of 13

The chips will do just fine, that's what I use.

post #10 of 13

First off brining a cornish hen for that long the meat will turn mushey and soft. I think. Now you can marinade the birds of you want and in anything that you want. Then I would smoke them to 165° period. Then you should have a really good tasting baby bird. Now for your wood problem I would post a thread for an exchange for the wood sticks that you want and there are alot of folks out there that would do an exchage with you and you wouldn't have the shipping you each will pay some shipping.

post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 

Well smoked the Cornish Hens on Saturday.  They turned out great and tasty!  I soaked them in brine for 2 hours, I added Brandy to it instead of Borbon,  It added a unqiue flavor to it, also put some brown surgar.  Took about a little over 2 hours to cook.


I been busy this week, I broke my right arm couple weeks ago and got surgery on it yesterday.  I also had my cousin in stall 2 250 gig hard drives on my compyter. So I have to reinstall my programs and stuff.  Can't find the disk to download the program for my sanyo didgital camrea, so taht is wy I haven't posted pics of finished Cornish Hens!


Thanks again for all the help!  Well be posting the pics soon I hope!






post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 

Finally found my disk for the software so I can download my pics from my camera!  Here are the pics of the Cornish hens I took!







2 of them have a sweet and smokey rub on them.  The other 2 just has barbecue sauce with no rub.  My mom and brother like barbecue sauce on these, can't seem to get then to like the rubs!

post #13 of 13

Looks like it all turned out just the way you wanted. Nice job

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