Recipe Blog - Feature - BBQ Cornish Hens

Recipe Barbecue Roasted Cornish Hens

By: Andrea Alden

Romance is in the air in those dark and cold days of mid-February. What better way to celebrate than with a romantic recipe of Barbecue Roasted Cornish Hens. Cornish hens are a very small and tiny chicken that was popular in the ’80s. They’re fairly inexpensive and easy to find in most grocery stores. Two Cornish hens will run you about half of what you would pay for a tenderloin or tomahawk steak. But these aren’t your average tiny chickens and we’re going to fancy things up with this recipe. So, whether you are after a romantic dinner for two or a spectacular and unique holiday meal, I know a little birdy who will always please.

Prep Time
15 Min
Cook Time
45 Min
Yield
2 to 4
Difficulty
Easy

Recipe Barbecue Roasted Cornish Hens

Print

Ingredients

Directions

Photos

Ingredients

Cornish Hens

2 to 4

Cornish hens

3 tbsp.

kosher salt

1 tsp.

baking powder

2 tbsp.

duck/goose fat, melted

1

lemon, zested

2 cloves

garlic

4 sprigs

fresh rosemary or thyme, chopped

1 tbsp.

peppercorns


Wild Rice Dressing

2 cups

wild rice, uncooked

Up to 4 cups

chicken stock ***measurement depends on cooking method

1

onion, cut into large chunks

1 tbsp.

butter

1

pomegranate


Pomegranate Balsamic Reduction

1 cup

pomegranate juice

½ cup

balsamic vinegar

½ cup

chicken stock

1 tbsp.

butter

Directions
  1. The day before, spatchcock the Cornish hens by removing the spine using sharp kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife. Flatten the hens by pressing on their breastbone. 
  2. Generously salt the inside of the Cornish hens then flip them over. In a dish, combine 3 tbsp. salt and the baking powder. Generously season the skin-side of the Cornish hens. Lay the seasoned birds onto a baking sheet with a rack inside and refrigerate overnight. This will help dry the skin for even better browning.
    Learn More About Salt Here
  3. When you are ready to cook, remove the Cornish hens from the refrigerator. In a mortar and pestle, grind together the lemon zest, garlic, fresh herbs, and peppercorns. Brush both sides of the Cornish hens with the melted duck or goose fat. You can use butter if you are in a pinch. Spread the seasoning all over the skin and whatever is remaining on the inside of the hens. 
  4. Preheat your barbecue to 425°F, setting up for indirect heat by lighting side by side burners and leaving the other side by side burners off. (Two on, one off for three burner grills, one on one off for two burner units)
  5. Place the Cornish hens, skin side down, on the hot side of the barbecue. Sear them until the skin is dark and crispy. Flip and sear the insides until they’re nice and crispy too. Remember that if it doesn’t release from the hot cooking grids when you go to flip them, they aren’t ready to flip yet. 
  6. Once both sides are nice and seared, move the Cornish hens to the off side of the barbecue to finish cooking for another 35 to 45 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer reads around 160°F in the breast. When the Cornish hens are done, remove them to a cutting board and allow them to rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
  7. Meanwhile, make the reduction by placing a wide and shallow pan over the side burner and setting the heat to medium-low. Add the pomegranate juice, vinegar, and stock, allowing the mixture to reduce from 2 cups to about ½ of a cup. This takes around 20 to 30 minutes. Reductions will go faster and easier when using a wider based pan instead of a narrow and deep saucepan as it will take longer to condense and reduce in relation to the pan.
  8. While everything is cooking and reducing, make the rice with the chicken stock using your favorite method. Fry the onion in the butter. When the rice is ready, toss the onion with the rice and add the pomegranate seeds.
  9. To serve, plate a generous portion of the wild rice and top with a half to a whole roasted Cornish hen. Add your favorite vegetable like brussels sprouts, and drizzle with the pomegranate reduction. Serve paired with a Riesling wine.

Perfect for a romantic evening or a big holiday dinner, this recipe for Barbecue Roasted Cornish Hens is easy, unique, and just a little bit fancy. What do you grill when you want to do something romantic? Share your enchanting barbecue recipes and photos on our social pages like Facebook and Instagram, using the hashtags #NapoleonEats and #NapoleonGrills.

Happy Grilling!

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Prepare

Combine salt with a teaspoon of baking powder and season the Cornish hens. Refrigerate overnight.

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Seasoning

Use a mortar and pestle to crush fresh peppercorns then combine the lemon zest, garlic and chopped fresh herbs

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Season

Brush the salted hens with the melted fat and then season with the lemon zest mixture

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Sear

Once preheated, sear the Cornish Hens using direct heat

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Grill

Grill using indirect heat until the breast reaches 160°F, then remove from the grill and rest

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Serve1

Serve with your favorite seasonal vegetables

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Serve2

Serve on a bed of wild rice

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Serve3

Cornish Hens pair well with a Reisling wine

AndreaAlden
Andrea Alden

I used to be the Sultana of Sizzle, but you can call me Andrea. I have always been passionate about food. Even though I was majoring in Art and Graphic Design, I would frequently be found cooking for my friends and family.

Read More
Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Prepare

Combine salt with a teaspoon of baking powder and season the Cornish hens. Refrigerate overnight.

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Seasoning

Use a mortar and pestle to crush fresh peppercorns then combine the lemon zest, garlic and chopped fresh herbs

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Season

Brush the salted hens with the melted fat and then season with the lemon zest mixture

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Sear

Once preheated, sear the Cornish Hens using direct heat

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Grill

Grill using indirect heat until the breast reaches 160°F, then remove from the grill and rest

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Serve1

Serve with your favorite seasonal vegetables

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Serve2

Serve on a bed of wild rice

Recipe Blog - BBQ Cornish Hens - Serve3

Cornish Hens pair well with a Reisling wine