Rotisserie Cornish Game Hens with Port Wine and Currant Jelly Glaze
If you have read this blog for any length of time, you know I have a soft spot for cornish game hens. Every time my grandfather came to visit, we would make cornish game hens stuffed with wild rice stuffing. In honor of my grandfather, when I wrote my rotisserie cookbook, I developed a rotisserie version of the recipe.
*Shameless plug: you did buy a copy of my cookbook, right? Right. Moving on…
Then I had this discussion with my dad at a family party:
Dad: So, how’s the cookbook doing?
Me: Great! I’ve already sold 100 copies. Did you see the wild rice stuffed hens? I wrote that just for Grandpa.
Dad: You mean the ones with a port wine and jelly glaze?
Me: Um…wait…not wild rice stuffed?
Dad: He loved those hens.
Me: You mean I’ve been making the wrong recipe THIS WHOLE TIME?
Dad: Grandpa really loved that glaze…
So, what did I learn today?
- When it comes to old family recipes, I really should ask instead of just going with what I remember. My memory can’t be trusted.
- I need a port wine glazed cornish hen recipe!
- Grill with Rotisserie attachment (I used a Weber Summit with an infrared rotisserie burner. Here is the current version of my grill.)
- Aluminum foil drip pan (9″x12″, or whatever fits your grill)
- Butcher’s twine
- Basting brush
- 4 Cornish game hens (Mine were about 1.75 pounds each)
- 6 teaspoons Kosher salt, 1 1/2 teaspoon per hen
- 2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper (1/2 teaspoon per hen)
- 1/2 cup Port
- 1/4 cup red currant jelly
*See my Rotisserie Poultry basic technique for an overview.
1. Prepare the hens and the glaze: For each hen: sprinkle evenly with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, making sure to get some in the cavity. Truss each hen tightly. (See the basic technique for trussing details). Once the hens are seasoned and trussed, skewer them on the spit. While the grill is pre-heating, put the port wine and currant jelly over medium heat in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer, and simmer until reduced by half, about ten minutes.
*If you have the time, do this an hour before cooking. This lets the hens come up to temperature before they go on the grill, which results in better browning.
2. Prepare the grill:
Set the grill up for rotisserie cooking at high heat. For my Weber Summit, this means removing the grates, turning the two outer burners (burners 1 and 6) to high, and turning the infrared burner to high. Then I put my drip pan in the middle, over the unlit burners, and let the grill preheat for ten to fifteen minutes. (See here for more rotisserie setup details.)
3. Rotisserie the hens:
Put the spit on the grill, turn on the rotisserie motor, and cook with the lid closed. The cooking time will be from 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the bird. My 1.75 pound Cornish hens cooked in 45 minutes. Checking the temperature in the thickest part of the breast meat with an instant read thermometer is the best way to tell if the hens are done. You want the temperature to be 160*F to 165*F. During the last fifteen minutes of cooking, brush the port wine glaze on the hens ever five minutes.
4. Serve: Brush the hens with one last coating of the glaze. Remove the spit from the grill, remove the hens from the spit, and remove the trussing string from the hens. Let the hens rest for at least 15 minutes, then split in half and serve.
*Don’t use a fine vintage port for this recipe. Use a cheap tawny or ruby port. I prefer tawny port for drinking, so that’s what I used in the recipe.
What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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