Recently, I was served a butterflied game hen at a restaurant and knew it would be high on my list of things to try at home. I found a recipe online for grilled game hens. The game hens are first butterflied so they can be cooked more evenly on the grill. This would also work for an oven preparation but who wants a hot kitchen in the middle of summer!? You could serve with this with a side of rice or potatoes but my husband and I were happy with just a side of fresh yellow beans from the garden.
I wasn't organized far enough in advance to marinade them as long as the recipe indicates and they were still very flavorful. This was the first time I've tried to butterfly poultry and it was not difficult at all but you will need a good kitchen shears and very sharp knife. I liked the how the drumsticks are tucked into the little slit to hold them in place. It made grilling so much easier and it looks nice on the plate.
Tuscan Cornish Hens
Adapted from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen
• 1/3 cup (75 mL) Lemon juice
• 1/4 cup (50 mL) Extra-virgin olive oil
• 4 Cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tbsp (15 mL) Chopped fresh rosemary
• 2 tsp (10 mL) Fennel seeds, crushed
• 1/2 tsp (2 mL) Each salt and pepper
(I also added a little Sarah's Mediterranean Sea Salt which has lavender in it)
• 4 Cornish hens (about 4 lb/2 kg) - Butterflied, See Instructions
In shallow glass dish, whisk together lemon juice, oil, garlic, rosemary, fennel, salt and pepper; set aside.
Using scissors, cut hens down each side of backbone; remove backbone. Turn, breast side up. Press firmly on breastbone to flatten; tuck wings behind back. Add to dish, turning to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate, turning occasionally, for up to 24 hours.)
Place hens, skin side down, on greased grill over medium heat; close lid and cook for 15 minutes. Turn and cook for about 20 minutes longer or until juices run clear when thigh is pierced.
Transfer to cutting board; tent with foil and let stand for 10 minutes.
How to Butterfly (Spatchcock) a Cornish Hen or Chicken:
1. Remove any excess fat inside the body cavities of the game hens or chicken, rinse under cold running water, drain and blot dry with paper toweling. One a cutting board, please the hen breast side down and, with a poultry shears, cut through the entire bird on both sides of the backbone from tail to head end and remove.
2. Open the bird by gently pulling the halves apart and, using a paring knife, cut of the breastbone on the inside of the bird. Run your thumbs along and under the sides of the breastbone and attached cartilage and pop them out.
3. Turn the hen over and, with a sharp knife, make a slit in the skin between the lower end of the breastbone and the leg, on each side, approximately 1/2 inch wide for a game hen and 1 inch wide for a chicken. Stick the end of the drumstick on that side through the slit. This will keep the bird together better during grilling and makes a nice presentation.