Friday, November 25, 2011

Silo Brick Grilled Cornish Hens

I created and cooked a special recipe for yesterday's Thanksgiving feast.  It's called "Not a damn thing".  It didn't have much taste but it was low on calories!    

Nah, the kitchens of Nibble Me This were shut down as we headed over the mountains to Franklin, NC to spend the day with my side of the family.  My mom cooked our traditional Thanksgiving feast which somehow manages every year to outstrip "nostalgia inflation" (where things tasted better in your memory) and be as fantastic as ever. 

Late in the afternoon, I decided to walk off the carbs and headed down the mountain road...

Yes, the actual road, not stock photo.
beyond the cow pastures....

The cabin property is on the extreme right of this picture.
to the sheep farm....
Holy crap, my mom wasn't kidding, there IS a red sheep in the herd.

and took this picture of the barn...

I'm a sucker for old barns. 
 The red brick silo in the picture was the inspiration for today's recipe and my 500th post -  Silo Brick Grilled Cornish Hens.

Silo Brick Grilled Cornish Hens
Servings:  4 (1/2 hen per person)
  • 2 ea cornish hens, thawed
  • 2 heat resistant bricks, double wrapped in foil
For the brine
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt 
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • enough water to cover the two hens
For the compound butter
  • 3 Tbsp butter (unsalted), softened
  • 1/2 tsp rosemary, fresh chopped
  • 1/2 tsp Hickory smoked salt (use regular Kosher if you don't have smoked)
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
For the finishing oil
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 sage leaves
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, whole
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. Mix the brine ingredients thoroughly together and brine the hens for 4 hours.  
  2. Mix the compound ingredients together with a fork, refrigerate, and take off refrigeration 1 hour before using.
  3. Heat oil in a small sauce pan to 350f.  
  4. Fry sage leaves about 1 minute and remove.
  5. Fry garlic cloves until done, about 2-3 minutes, and remove.
  6. Let oil cool.  Place sage, garlic, pepper and oil in a blender or food processor and blend together.
  7. Preheat your grill and two foil wrapped bricks to 400f.  On the Big Green Egg, I used a raised grid set up where the meat is 8" from the coals.  If your grill can't adjust the height from the coals, drop the temp to about 350f and carefully monitor the internal temps.
  8. Spatchcock or butterfly the hens by cutting out the backbone with kitchen/poultry sheers.  
  9. Work your finger under the skin and spread the softened compound butter over the breast, thighs, and legs. 
  10. Place birds bone side down, weigh down with bricks and cook 6 minutes.
  11. Rotate birds 90 degrees and weigh down again for another 6 minutes.
  12. Remove birds from grill (to prevent flare ups) and drizzle some of the sage oil over the skin side.  Flip and drizzle sage oil over the back.  Return to grill skin side down, top with bricks, and cook for 3 minutes.
  13. Rotate 90 degrees and cook another 3 minutes.  
  14. Temp check thighs (175f) and breasts (160).  If not done, slip bone side down and finish to those temps (shouldn't be another few minutes). 
  15. Let rest 10 minutes before serving

With the weather getting cold, sage is one of the last herbs surviving in our garden.

You won't use all the oil, save the rest for other dishes.

If you can't get "all natural", reduce the salt content of the brine to 1/4 cup.

Getting the butter/herbs under the skin seasons the meat better.

A glimpse into how I come up with recipes.  I started with the word Franklin and brainstormed.

The brick helps flatten the birds for more even cooking.

Finishing bone side down to get the desired final internal temps.

The wild rice was a certain Uncle's box mix with frozen peas and crisped bacon added.
I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, spent time with family and arrived home safely!


  1. Great looking birds Chris! Is your mom the owner of Our Krazy Kitchen? I only ask because I saw the same road picture in that blog too, or am I going nuts?
    Take care..

  2. Yum! Happy Thanksgiving - love the home scenery!

  3. I'm jealous. A walk would always beat a Lion's game. Next year I guess.
    The birds look great and I love the idea of the brick to even out the heat. You lost me on the diagram but I get everything else. The taste was great I'm sure.

  4. @ Food Graciousness: ha ha, no, I guest post at OKK every other Friday. I did that post too.

    @ Mary: Thanks!

    @ Dr Dan: That was kind of the point about the diagram, just shows the chaos in my mind when I try to come up with a recipe related to a specific topic.

  5. The hens look fantastic, but that road looks even better. I haven't been back to NC in 7 years. Truly a beautiful part of the country. I miss it!

  6. Western NC is such a pretty part of the world and I'd say a great place to gather for a family Thanksgiving. Congrats on the 500th and it looks toooo good - I really like the brick trick.

  7. I adored your photos. So you brine, spatchcock and weight your birds. We should start a church together! LOL

  8. Now that's a sheep of a different color. Happy Thanksgiving, glad everyone made it home safely.

  9. At least you didn't end up calling them Organizer Hens… ;) Nice to see you took a day off from cooking and had a great Thanksgiving!

  10. Love the old barn action, Chris. The food and scenery look great!

  11. Chris- That part of the country is simply one of the most beautiful places around. I love the name of your recipes, very clever. I have some of those cornish hens in my freezer and this recipe has really inspired me. They are picture perfect....gorgeous, gorgeous! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  12. Chris, I was in "didn't cook a damn thing" club too, and I was in Dobson, N.C.. spending time with my parents.

    Love the photo of the old barn. Would you mind if I used it for one of my Wordless Wednesday posts? Credit would be given to you and a link back to your blog.

    I have not had cornish hens in a long time. Your version looks wonderfully delicious.


    P.S. No doubt by the time you arrived home you were ready to cook.

  13. A flow chart! You are sooo organized. Happy 500. GREG

  14. You find inspiration in the darndest places, Chris!

    I'm really glad you had a delicious Thanksgiving. And then a delicious after-Thanksgiving. Lots of delicious to go around.

  15. Congratulations on the 500th post!! Woo Hoo!!

    Lovely pictures Chris! Glad you got to spend time with your family... and what a great inspiration for your amazing looking chicken too!

  16. Wow...your photos are stunning, Chris! These cornish game hens look pretty darn good, too! I hope you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    Kim in MD

  17. I've never made cornish hens but you make me want to try them! They look wonderful. Glad you had a happy Thanksgiving Chris.

  18. oh my gosh, what a gorgeous walk! my friend and i took a walk on thanksgiving too, but it wasn't half as beautiful. i love the cornish hens, i tend to think food is always a bit more fun in smaller sizes. i'm glad you had a nice thanksgiving!

  19. Congratulations on your 500th post Chris! By the way this Silo Brick Grilled Cornish Hens recipe looks great.

  20. Congrats on 500 and love that chart! Great country photos Chris.

  21. I love cooking with a brick. And I love sage!I'll be trying this!

  22. Loved this post! Love your photos... especially the winding road and your barn shot!! It's crazy to see inside that brain of yours to see how you come up with your creative processes. Wow, a barn brought us this delicious cornish hen recipe. I love cornish hens....

    Or as I thought my country-accented mama was always calling them... "corn-a-cheans"

  23. wonderful information, I had come to know about your blog from my friend nandu , hyderabad,i have read atleast 7 posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your website gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a ton once again,
    Regards, cornish hen recipe


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