Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Bacon-Wrapped Cornish "Game-Day" Hens!

Quick Note, I apologize for my recent absence, I went to Hawaii for awhile because it's too damned cold to stay in MN for the entire Winter without a break!  I'm back now, and I'm ready to cook!

I'm excited about today's recipe because I've been thinking about it for a long time and I finally picked "Superbowl Sunday" to put it together.  I bring you, "Cornish Game Hens, Wrapped in a Lattice of Bacon," or, "Cornish Game-Day Hens!"

Come on, admit it.  You've walked past a bin of these cute little birds at the grocery store and you've thought, "Those look like fun, but I have no idea what to do with them."  I highly recommend that you get a few and keep them in your freezer for "emergencies."  They're cheap, they're delicious, they cook quickly, and they're impressive to present.  If you're dating a carnivore (and really, why wouldn't you be?), putting a plate together for your sweetheart that has an entire bird on it, cooked and ready for consumption, well; there's not a quicker way to win their heart.  Valentine's day is coming, so if you need to say, "I Love You" or "I'm kinda glad you're hanging around," or even if you have to say, "I'm sorry," this bird will go a long way toward making your feelings known.  So, get busy!

You Will Need:
  • Bacon.  Good, thick, lean bacon.  12 slices per hen.
  • Small "individual serving" cans of tomato juice or V8, empty (Drink up), 1 per hen
  • Olive Oil
  • Your favorite Dry Rub.  For this recipe, I like equal amounts of:
    • Homemade Chipotle Chili Powder
    • Brown Sugar
    • Kosher Salt
    • Black Pepper
    • Garlic Powder
  • Butcher's twine
  • 12oz of good beer (4oz for the recipe, and 8oz for personal use)
  • 2oz of Bourbon Whiskey (for personal use) 
First, you'll need to thaw the birds.  Just toss them in a sink of cold water for 4-6 hours.  They'll be ready and raring to go.  Cut them out of their packages, rinse them in cold water, dry them, then give them a quick rub-down with some good olive oil.  Set them aside.

Create a lattice of bacon.  The picture shows 7 slices going each way, but I have learned that 6 is more than adequate. Sprinkle on a generous helping of your dry rub.  Stand back and admire your work, it's not everyday that such a creative culinary concoction gets laid out in a kitchen!  Pour about a tablespoon of beer into one of the small cans, take a swig of your brewsky (out of the bottle) and give yourself a short nod of confidence... then grab one of the birds!

Place the bird, breast side up, on the edge of the lattice as shown.  Fortify yourself, and grab the edges of the lattice sheet, opposite the bird, and fold it over.  Tuck the edges in as best as you can.  Now, turn the small can so that the opening is "up" (you don't want to spill any beer) and slide it into the opening at the base of the bird.  Carefully, stand the bird up so that it sits on the can.  If you've ever made "Beer Can Chicken," this is exactly the same concept, on a smaller scale.

Once the bird is sitting upright, use your butcher's twine to cinch her up around the waist, and another strand to bring her bacon-skirt together around her knees.  You want a "Mermaid Fit" of the bacon dress around this little sweetie.  If you're confused about what a "Mermaid" style dress is, ask your spouse or ask someone to do a Google Image search on it.  Don't do it on your own computer, because you don't want to be caught with that frilly stuff in your browser cache!

Repeat this process for any and all of the other hens you may have purchased.  Stand them up on a stainless steel sheet, and tuck them into the corner of your grill.  If you're burning hardwood or charcoal for fuel (as you should), be sure the birds are sitting away from the fire.  If you have a propane grill, add another $20 to your savings account for a "Real Man's" grill and turn on the gas away from the birds.  Close the lid and make sure the temperature creeps up to about 375 degrees.  If you have other room on the grill, add some chicken wings or some Jalapeno Poppers.

Leave the birds on the heat at 375 for about 45 minutes.  Enjoy some Whiskey.  When the time is up, take their temperature at the breast with an instant-read thermometer.  You're looking for 160 degrees.  Be super careful here, because these hens will dry out QUICKLY, so don't let them get over 165.  160-165 degrees yields a perfectly done, tender, soft, super juicy bird!  170 degrees brings words like, "Dry" and/or "Hockey Puck" to your table and you don't want that.

When you pull the birds off of the grill, discard the cans (careful, they're hot) and use some shears to cut the twine, then cut the birds in half, straight up from the opening at the bottom, right through the breast bone.  Serve with a generous helping of the grilled bacon.  For me, this counts as a "finger food," but some people might want a fork.  The hen should pull apart quite easily and taste like a smaller, juicier, and more flavorful chicken.  Yum.  As always, if you enjoyed this recipe, please leave me a comment so I know I'm not alone out here!  :)


  1. wonderful information, I had come to know about your blog from my friend nandu , hyderabad,i have read atleast 7 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your website gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a ton once again,
    Regards, cornish hen recipe


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