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Grill-up these Orange Cherry Cornish Hens for a juicy, flavorful meal. Butterflied Cornish Hens are cooked on the grill until tender then brushed with an orange cherry glaze.
Orange Cherry Cornish Hens
The weather is starting to mellow out in the valley, giving us more of an opportunity to grill and relax outside. When it is just Paul and I having dinner, I like to mix things up a little by making an elegant meal with rustic charm and Cornish hens fit the bill perfectly. These hens are delicious with my Creamy Smoked Gouda Risotto.
Cornish hens use to intimidate me, I would inadvertently overcook them, not really knowing a great way to prepare them. Then I learned about a technique called spatchcocking. Basically it means to butterfly a bird, such as a chicken or in this case a Cornish hen, by removing it’s backbone and flattening it out.
It really helps to create an even cooking surface plus it makes a really pretty presentation. It is especially useful when you are grilling these Orange Cherry Cornish Hens hens.
While at Walmart I grabbed a 2-pack of Tyson® Cornish Hens. They are all natural with no artificial ingredients or preservatives, and no added hormones or steroids. They are great for any occasion and can make a normal weeknight meal feel special!
Paul loves orange chicken so I decided to make a glaze with Kikkoman® Orange Sauce that mimics those flavors but with a fun twist. Cherry preserves, rosemary and a hint of garlic pairs beautifully with the orange sauce.
In addition to butterflying the hens, I like to brine them for extra tenderness and flavor. I use soy sauce in this particular brine for saltiness and flavor. Kikkoman® Low-Sodium Soy Sauce is a great choice because I want some saltiness but not too much.
I like that Kikkoman® Soy Sauce is traditionally brewed and is a versatile flavor enhancer, it can be used in a variety of your favorite dishes, not just Asian recipes! Their full line of sauces and marinades is perfect for grilling season.
Cornish hens cook pretty quickly so they are a great weeknight meal and you can do the prep work for these Orange Cherry Cornish Hens the night before. Start by brining the bird overnight. In the morning pat the birds dry and wrap them loosely in aluminum foil, then refrigerate until ready to prepare that evening.
If you are grilling them immediately, brine for a least 2 hours, pat them try throughly and proceed with remaining instructions!
The brine injects moisture and flavor while drying the hens out in the fridge helps the skin get crispy when you grill them. I like to tuck a few sprigs of fresh rosemary under the skin of the hens right before grilling for extra flavor too.
Just be sure you wait to brush the glaze on during the last few minutes of grilling otherwise the sugars will burn. And nobody likes a burnt birdie!
- 2 butterflied Cornish hens
- For the brine~
- ½ gallon cold water
- ½ cup kosher salt
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup soy sauce
- 1 orange, cut into quarters
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ inch piece ginger
- For the glaze~
- 3 tablespoons orange sauce
- 3 tablespoons cherry preserves
- 1 clove garlic
- ½ teaspoon grated ginger
- For the brine~
- Combine all ingredients to a large covered container. Add cornish hens and refrigerate at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
- Discard brine and pat bird dry. If cooking immediately prepare grill according to manufacturers directions. Grill until desired doneness.
- For the glaze~
- In a small bowl combine glaze ingredients.
- Brush hens with glaze during final 5-7 minutes of cooking time.
- *If preparing ahead, wrap hens loosely in aluminum foil. Refrigerate 8-10 hours until ready to cook.