Ketchup is a good starting point for this BBQ-like glaze, but make sure to get the Cornish hen skin nice and crispy on the grill before you start brushing with the glaze, so the added sugars in the ketchup do not burn.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 4 Cornish hens (each about 1¾ to 2 pounds)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- ½ orange juice
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
How to Make It
- Preheat a grill to medium heat. Place 1 hen on the cutting board, breast side up, and with a large sharp chef’s knife, cut out the backbone on both sides and cut off the wing tips (save for stock for another meal). Flip over the hen and trim a notch in the breastbone (the white piece of cartilage connecting the 2 breasts) to help flatten it. Flip the hen, breast side up again, and press to split the breast and flatten it. Repeat with the remaining hens. Season hens with salt and pepper and brush with oil.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, vinegar, the 2 tablespoons oil, the orange juice, garlic, rosemary, and pepper flakes. Set aside.
- Grill the hens, breast side down, until the skin begins to crisp, then flip and grill breast side up for 10 minutes. Then flip and grill breast side down for 10 minutes more. A meat thermometer stuck in the thickest part of the thigh should read about 140°F. At this point, brush the hens liberally with the ketchup glaze. Once the glaze begins to set, 2 to 3 minutes, flip to breast side down again and glaze once more. Grill until the breast side is nicely lacquered, but not burned, 2 to 3 minutes, and then flip again. Brush with any remaining glaze and cook until the thermometer reads 165°F., 3 to 5 minutes more. Let the hens rest on a cutting board at least 5 minutes before serving.