Game hens seem so underrated and are perfect for you New Year’s Eve dinner. They make for an excellent presentation, especially around the holidays, whether you serve them whole or cut in half, plated or on a buffet.
When cooking poultry with stuffing, it is important that the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches a safe temperature as well as the bird itself. Always be sure that the stuffing reaches 160°F to 165°F.
Grill Roasted Hens with Currant & Pecan Cornbread Stuffing
Makes 4 to 6 servings
6 ounces cornbread stuffing croutons
1/3 cup dried currants or raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 rib celery, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1 1/2 cup no salt added chicken stock, heated
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 Cornish game hens
Extra virgin olive oil
Combine the cornbread croutons, currants, and pecans in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium high heat. When the foaming subsides, add the onion and celery and then saute until softened; 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sage and saute for 30 seconds more. Transfer to the bowl with the cornbread mixture. Toss to combine and add the hot stock in a couple stages tossing the mixture together in between additions of stock until all the croutons are moistened and set aside.
Set up and preheat the grill for indirect cooking with medium heat. I used a large perforated grilling grid for ease of transporting the hens, but they can be placed directly on the grill grates, but remember to brush and oil the grates.
Season the inside of the game hens and loosely stuff with the stuffing mixture. Use toothpicks to secure the openings at either end or each bird, then tuck the wings under and tie the legs together with cotton butcher’s twine – this will help the hens to cook evenly. Brush the birds with oil and season with salt and pepper.
Place the hens breast side up on the grill. Close the cover and cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours; rotate the birds front-to-back and side-to-side halfway through the cooking for even browning. The hens are ready to come off the grill with the breast and stuffing reach and internal temperature of 160°F to 165°F and the thigh reaches 170°F to 175°F.
Remove from grill and let rest, tented with foil, for 10 minutes. remove string from legs and serve whole. To serve halves, turn the hen over and use kitchen shears to cut out the backbone and then use a chef’s knife to cut through the stuffing and in half. Serve warm.
Happy New Year!
Cheers and Happy Grilling