Mixed grill was probably the first cooked meal ever served. It’s easy to imagine: a variety of meats from the day’s hunt, cooked over the communal fire and eaten, not in courses, but all at once, juices and flavors mingling and enhancing one another. Our selection is largely poultry, mingling game hen, duck breast, and sausage with fresh figs, orange, and fennel.
Gas: Direct heat, medium-low (300°F)
Clean, oiled grate
Charcoal: Direct heat, medium ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on medium setting
Direct heat, medium ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 4 inches above the fire.
INGREDIENTS (MAKES 6 SERVINGS)
3 game hens, about 1 ½ pounds each, split lengthwise
3 boneless (but not skinless) Muscovy duck breast halves, about 8 ounces each, skin scored with 3 or 4 slashes
4 cups Orange-Fennel Brine
1 ounce pancetta or bacon, finely chopped
1 cup white wine
1 cup orange juice
12 fresh figs, halved lengthwise
12 small fennel twigs (optional)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 sausage links (your choice – anything from mild Italian to lamb with garlic)
Oil for coating grill grate
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces.
1. Put the game hen halves and duck breasts in a gallon-size zipper-lock bag with the brine. Seal the zipper, leaving about an inch open; push on the bag to release any trapped air through the opening, and close the zipper completely. Massage the liquid gently into the meat and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, heat the pancetta in a small saucepan until the fat renders. Add the wine and orange juice and boil until reduced to 1 cup; set aside.
3. Heat the grill as directed.
4. Spear each fig half with a fennel twig (if desired) and coat the figs with the olive oil. Poke the sausages several times with a fork.
5. Remove the game hen halves and duck breasts from the brine; discard the brine. Pat dry. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil; put the hens, skin-side down, on the grill. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn, and put the duck breasts, skin-side down, and the sausages on the grill. Cover and grill until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a game hen breast, a duck breast, or the end of a sausage registers 165°F, about 12 minutes, turning the sausages and duck breasts halfway through.
6. Remove everything to a large serving platter and keep warm. If using gas, turn the grill to high, put a grill screen on the grill, and heat for 1 minute. (If using charcoal or wood, place the grill screen over the hottest part of the fire.) Put the figs, cut-side down, on the grill screen, cover the grill, and cook until the figs have browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer to the platter.
7. Reheat the reduced wine and orange juice to boiling. Mix in the butter, stir until melted, and pour the sauce over everything. Serve immediately.