Fall is in the air! The cooler breezes dance amongst the leaves in my backyard, orchestrating an afternoon symphony especially for my ears. The gradual transformation of the tree-lined streets in downtown Lodi is underway, soon to be bursting with rust and gold leaves. I find myself asking, “Do I need a jacket to cook tonight’s dinner by the open fire of my Bull pizza oven?” Grilling on our Bull bbq’s gets my culinary juices flowing for the arrival of the fall season.
To kick off the fall season, which officially begins on Friday, and to celebrate my husband’s birthday, I want to create a meal using the rotisserie on my Angus Bull BBQ. Keeping in mind dinner for two, and trying to sway away from the go-to rotisserie recipes, I plan to make something special for the occasion. On the menu this week – Rotisserie Cornish Game Hens accompanied with Roasted Red Potatoes. These potatoes are not simply roasted. They are slowly cooked in the savory juices that drip off the birds and into a lined pan placed directly underneath the hens.
For additional flavor and moisture, along with a little temperature wiggle room, I place the cornish game hens in a brine a couple hours before grilling. Placing the smaller birds in a brine allows the meat to absorb more moisture and therefore, decreases the chances of overcooking the meat and potentially drying out the breast if left on too long. While the breast meat should reach a temp of 165 degrees for doneness, the thigh area needs to cook to 170 degrees. This is an extra step in the prep process, but the end results are delicious!
Chef’s Note: Make sure to call your local butcher a few days before you grill the birds. Cornish game hens are usually kept frozen. Follow the steps to properly defrost the birds in time to place in the brine, and you will be on your way to a wonderful meal.
- For the Brine:
- 2 quarts water
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ¼ cup sugar
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
- For the Cornish Game Hens
- 2 (22-ounce) Cornish game hens
- 2 quarts brining solution
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 sprigs fresh sage leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For the Brine: In a large pot, bring the water to a boil.
- Next add the salt, sugar, black peppercorns and garlic and stir.
- Allow the salt and sugar to dissolve and the garlic and peppercorns to infuse into the boiling water.
- Remove the pot and allow the brine to cool down completely.
- Remove the giblets from the hens and place each bird into a large 1 gallon zip lock bag. Submerge the hens in the brine, about 1 quart brining solution per ziplock bag or in a large enough container to fit both birds and the brine.
- Remove as much of the air from the ziplock bag before folding the top section over and closing air tight.
- Place the bags into the fridge for about one hour.
- Rotate the birds and bag, flipping over onto other side and allow them to sit another 2 hours, 4 hours total in brine solution.
- Remove the birds from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel all over and under the wings. The bird will brown better if completely dry of the brining solution.
- For the Cornish Hens: Place the lemon half inside the cavity of each hen.
- Evenly divide the fresh herbs and place inside along with the lemon.
- Truss the hens, closing up the cavity and securing the wing and legs close to the body.
- Brush the hens with olive oil and season with pepper.
- Place the hens onto the spit.
- To preheat the grill, remove the two center grill grates directly under where the birds will cook.
- Use a disposable aluminum tray under to catch the drippings and to place the potatoes. Place the spit onto the rotisserie motor. Review this video Bull BBQ Rotisserie if you need to refresh your memory.
- Turn the rotisserie motor on and turn the rotisserie burner knob to medium heat.
- For additional heat, turn the two outside burner knobs with the grill grates above to low. Close the lid and get the temperature to set around 35o. Adjust the heat as needed to consistently maintain 350 degrees.
- Keeping the lid closed as much as possible, allow the birds to cook for about 45 minutes, internal temp of 165 for the breast and 170 for the thigh.
- Once done, turn off the spit, using the Bull Pit Mitt gloves remove the spit from the grill and carefully remove the hens from the spit.
- Loosely cover the hens with foil, allowing them to rest and carry over cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- To serve, place the hens onto a cutting board. Cut the hens in half using a large, sharp knife or chicken shears. Cut through the cavity, splitting the hen on the backbone. From there, turn it over and split through the breast.
- Finish with the roasted potatoes, some pan drippings, drizzle evoo and a glass of your favorite wine!
- 2 pounds small red-skinned potatoes
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 teaspoons evoo
- Par cook the potatoes in a microwave safe container covered with plastic for about 8 minutes.
- Once cool, toss with evoo and salt.
- Place the potatoes directly under the cornish game hens into an even layer.
- At 30 minutes, carefully rotate the pan so the other side of the potatoes is closest to the heat. Give them a stir and close the lid to continue to cook.
- At 45 minutes, stir again and check for doneness.
- Once they have turned brown and are crispy they are done.
- Remove the potatoes with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Enjoy!
♥ Chef Amy
Nice Recipe love this.