This is an old-fashioned special occasion dish that is making a big comeback. We think of it as the Zsa Zsa Gabor of the Poultry page. If you don't know who Zsa Zsa is, Google it! (Hint: remember "Green Acres?") Well, we're barely old enough to remember it, and that's the point. We haven't seen this bird on a plate ever - until we saw it recently at a Kansas City Barbecue Society barbecue cook-off.
Unlike quail and phesant, these hens really do taste like chicken, but the hen has a formal presentation all its own. We like to splatchcock it (remove the backbone and flatten it) to be sure it cooks evenly on the grill. For a competition presentation, we would cut them in half before grilling.
We plan on one hen per person for big appetites, and half for normal or small appetites. Everybody gets a leg!
Sour Cream Smoked Cornish Game Hen
1 16 oz container of sour cream (low-fat is OK)
1 4-5 oz piece of parmesean/reggiano, chunked
1 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp white pepper
dash Crystal Hot Sauce
Clean and splatchcock the birds. In a food processor with a metal blade, process the parmesean-reggiano until it is grated very fine. Add the other ingredients and pulse about 5 times to mix well. Coat the birds in the sour cream mixture, and let them rest in the fridge for at least an hour - two is better. There's just something about the combination of sour cream (and buttermilk) with poultry that is magic!
Start a medium-hot two-level fire (one hot side, one cool side) and grill the birds, turning, on the cool side for 40-45 mins. The internal tem should reach 165 degrees (they're so small, the temp won't rise much when they rest.) To make sure they're tender, twist a leg bone: it will move freely when the hen is done.
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