First Ever Cornish Hens

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tx smoker

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Apr 14, 2013
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Lago Vista, Texas
As a kid my mom used to cook Cornish hens for me on a regular basis. For some unknown reason, as much as I loved them, I've never cooked them for myself. It had probably been 45 years or more since I've had one but asked Tracy to grab a couple at the grocery store on her last trip. Decided to do them this past Saturday. Was gonna do them on the spinner of the Weber but it was so insanely windy again I didn't want to chance torching half of Texas so decided to go with the Rec Tec.

I'll start out saying that I am very, very disappointed with the photographic documentation for this meal. I had a feeling it was gonna come out well but hit a snag with the time. A friend dropped in unexpectedly for "a few minutes" just before the hens hit temp. Those "few minutes" turned into an hour and a half. My intention was to do a top shelf picture presentation but that didn't happen :emoji_disappointed: Thank God for the Rec Tec though. I dropped the temp all the way down when the birds hit temp so they'd stay warm but not cook any more. Also had to change up the menu due to lack of time but still managed a good meal.

Put the hens in to brine Friday morning. They were in there for about 28 hours. Took them out, rinsed, and into the fridge uncovered for a couple hours for the skin to dry. Injected with Cajun Injector Creole Butter then seasoned with a bit of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika
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Onto the Rec Tec. I used the removable second shelf and put a roasting pan under the birds to catch the drippings. More on that later :emoji_wink: Set temp was 365 and here we are about an hour in.
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When they were done I turned the grill temp down so they wouldn't cook any more. Took the drippings into the house to make some gravy
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Add flour to make the roux, some milk, heavy cream, a dash of salt, and some black pepper
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Let simmer till it thickens and I have a wonderful tasting gravy. One of my best efforts.
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Friend finally gone so bring the birds into the house
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While I was working on other stuff Tracy cut up a nice little salad
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Dinner plated. Split one of the hens in half, put some gravy on it, had some egg noodles tossed with the gravy, and the salad
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I'd planned to make mashed potatoes but just did not have time. The egg noodles were a drop-back-10-and-punt side dish. They worked but I had my heart set on the taters. The presentation is WAY short of what I'd hoped for but that's ok. The meal was superb. Those hens were totally off the charts. Far and again the tastiest poultry meal we've ever had. IMHO, the Cornish hens are the Gold Standard of poultry. As much as I like chicken and turkey, neither comes close to these babies. A truly decadent and exquisite flavor. Moist, tender, juicy, and a nice crunch to the skin. All in all I'd say I nailed the cook I hoped for going in. Rest assured, these will become a regular menu item around here. The brine was an adaptation of one I used several years ago for a turkey that I put together from memory. If anybody is interested in what I used for it, just say so and I'll try to put it down on paper. Nothing measured though, just a list of what went into it. You're on your own from there :emoji_wink:

Oh well, as much of a bummer as it was, we still enjoyed it. Next time I might just have to be rude and tell guests that it's time to leave :emoji_laughing: Y'all take care and I'll see you again soon. It was a weekend of firsts and have another "first" I might post from Sunday but have not looked at the pics yet.

Robert
 
those look great! I love Cornish hens! You plating is colorful and look delish!
 
Your hens look gorgeous Robert, a hell of a lot better than the two I put on the spinner a week ago, it was a learning experience. RAY
 
That looks delicious as always but it did remind me of a time (in the early 1980's) I was living in the panhandle of Oklahoma and working 7 days a week on a drilling rig. Long way from home and Thanksgiving rolls around. I ran across Cornish hens at a local grocery so I grabbed a couple of them and cooked them in creme of Mushroom soup in a pan, in a little make shift stove, in a little bitty trailer. It was actually a co-worker who gave me the idea. I don't have to tell you how good it was :)

Carry on - they were good but do not compare to what Robert has posted. Those birds are beautiful!
 
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Those are great looking hens. We don’t eat them as often as we used to but they definitely make the rotation. The plate looks great. Nice work.
 
Great looking cook Robert! Love those Cornish hens!

Ryan
 
Robert those look fantastic!! It’s been ages since I’ve had them. I really need to change that. Great job on these!
 
those look great! I love Cornish hens! You plating is colorful and look delish!
We love them also Dave and thanks for the kind words. Tracy had never eaten them before and yelled at me (nicely) for waiting so long to cook them.
Your hens look gorgeous Robert, a hell of a lot better than the two I put on the spinner a week ago, it was a learning experience.
Thanks buddy. Appreciate it. There's a world of difference between a rotisserie and just putting them in the Rec Tec. I bet yours were perfectly cooked though, regardless of appearance.
I love game hens. And these look out of this world delicious! Hell of a fine job bud!
Thanks buddy. Was nice to get reacquainted with an old flame, that's for sure.

Robert
 
That looks delicious as always but it did remind me of a time (in the early 1980's) I was living in the panhandle of Oklahoma and working 7 days a week on a drilling rig. Long way from home and Thanksgiving rolls around. I ran across Cornish hens at a local grocery so I grabbed a couple of them and cooked them in creme of Mushroom soup in a pan, in a little make shift stove, in a little bitty trailer
Very much appreciate the kind words. you sir do however get 5 stars for creativity. That was a great story about making the best out of what you have. Well done.
Cornish hens are a favorite and so easy to do. They’re quick, too. Nice job!
You are correct on all counts Sven. Except for brining them, they could be ready to go on the cooker in a matter of minutes and it was only about a 2 hour cook +/-
Those are great looking hens. We don’t eat them as often as we used to but they definitely make the rotation.
Thanks so much. I can guarantee that these get eaten a lot more frequently around here. they were fantastic!!

Robert
 
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Robert, it's been too long since I've had Cornish hens and I'd actually forgotten about them again since TNJAKE TNJAKE did some a few months back. Those are spot on and I'm not going to forget them again. Nice cook my friend...
 
Wow! You never disappoint Robert! That’s awesome all the way around. I have to say you’re more polite than me! If I have friends drop by I just make them follow me around if I’m doing something! Great job! Between you and TNJAKE TNJAKE I’m thinking this needs to be done soon!
 
You know, I can't remember the last time I cooked them...has to be over 20 years ago. I usually reach for some of the wild game birds I have in the freezer. Thanks for posting, the birds look great!
 
Robert my friend, IMO those hens look phenomenal! I’d have no problem making one or two disappear! 😉

We love them and used to eat them pretty regularly…. but haven’t had them in a while! Thanks for the reminder…. My kiddos when they were young used to think it was cool that they got a whole bird!

Thanks for the reminder to do some of these and also about my kids eyes lighting up as they got a whole bird to themselves! LOL.
 
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