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Need Help with More Flavorful Hens

Wise OneWise One Posts: 2,645
edited 3:33AM in EggHead Forum
The other night I cooked two hens on the egg that were just wonderful. They were juicy, meat falling off the bone and a wonderful golden crispy skin (I used some of my backyard pecan chunks). My wife (the same one who laments that she didn't know she was getting me into a cult when she gave me the egg for my birthday) has decided that they came out so wonderful that she wants me to do more and give them away to some friends. However, she says: "We just need to get a little more flavor into them." OK, I'll admit it, I'm just a simple guy. I just washed the chicken, rubbed it with olive oil and sprinkled with salt, pepper and a few italian herbs (oregano, basil, and ??) and then told them to go get on the egg and cook themselves over a pool of beer and water. [p]I've been reading about flavor brines and wonder if that might be the way to go? Anybody got some good ideas (simple ideas are better as I truly am a simple cook) as to how to get more flavor into the meat so I can get my wife to let me cook more stuff on the egg?


  • sprintersprinter Posts: 1,188
    Wise One,[p]If you're speaking of Cornish Hens, they are already more flavorful than the average chicken or roaster, not sure if a brine would help much there or not. Probably so, have not found much that a brine will NOT help at least a bit. If its just a plain roaster, by all means, a brine will add significant flavor. Generally speaking, any brine I use is equal parts sugar (brown or white) with Non Iodized salt, in a gallon of water. I don't boil the mixture though some do. If you do, be sure its thoroughly cool before adding the meat. With the salt/sugar mixture I add any other herbs that suit me. I've substituted 1/2 cup molasses in place of 1/2 cup of the sugar and it was great. You can cut the whole thing in half if you want, just keep the water/sugar/salt mixture in line. After that, let your imagination take hold and have fun. Hope this helps.[p]Troy
  • YBYB Posts: 3,861
    Wise One,
    You may want to try JJ's cornish hens.

    [ul][li]JJ's Cornish Hens[/ul]
  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    Wise One,[p]If you decide to brine the hens, limit the time in the brine to 3-6 hours. They are small and can be overbrined.[p]Another option is to rub the meat under the skin (more flavor in the meat). With care, the skin can be loosened all of the way into the legs. Butterfying the bird gives better access. We enjoy Cat's turkey recipe with hens, and have tried many different stuffings. Butterflied hens make a very nice presentation.[p]Spin

  • Wise OneWise One Posts: 2,645
    Spin, by butter-flying do you cut up the breast and then just pull the leggs and wings outward to flatten it?

  • HuckHuck Posts: 110
    sprinter, I brine with 1 cup salt, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 bottle Worchestchire sauce for 8-10 hours. I've also heard of people using honey in the brine and shoving other stuff under the skin such as garlic and peppers etc. I split the birds up the back and lay them flat. I go at 400 degrees until done. I don't leave my polder in there at that temp, I just check it every half hour after about forty minutes. You almost can't over do it. When you poke the polder probe in, it SQUIRTS it's so juicy! I've taken to smearing a butter/preserves mixture all over the birds about thirty minutes before they come off. My wife likes apricot, I'd like to try plum. End results are spectacular! Birds are cheap and experimenting is fun. I've also done chickens low and slow at 250 degrees and the last half hour stoke it up to 400 and swabbing on the favorite barbeque sauce for traditional, no holds barred, ultimate bbq flavored chicken.
  • Wise One, I saw an "expert griller" on TV butterfly hens
    by removing the vertebral column with a sharp knife, just
    prior to the cook. He grilled the birds on a Weber, 14
    minutes per side. I agree with Master Spin, the presentation on the plate of butterfly birds looks great!
    Big Al

  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    Wise One,[p]Al Beal says it right. You can use a sharp knife or kitchen shears. Cut alond both sides (and right up against) the backbone, removing it. Open the bird up and turn the breast side up. Give it a good press down to break a few ribs so it will lay flat. [p]For stuffing, lift the skin at the neck and break the fine membrane connecting it to the meat with your finger. Another membrane is at the thigh joint. Just be careful not to tear the skin. If you do, a needle and some thread is helpful.[p]They cook in about 75 minutes at 325F (direct). I start cavity side down and flip over after 50 minutes or so to brown the skin. Pecan and apple is our favorite smoke.[p]Spin[p]

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