Don’t be put off by butterflying. You just cut the whole bird in half and open it up like a book. Butterflying allows you to quickly grill a whole chicken or game hen (rather than slowly grill-roasting it) because the bird lies flat on the grill. These game hens cook in less than 30 minutes and get deep flavor from soaking in a marinade made with fresh herbs.

Gas: Direct heat, medium (350°F)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, medium ash
12-by-12-inch charcoal bed (about 3 dozen coals)
Clean, oiled grate on lowest setting
Direct heat, medium ash
12-by-12-inch bed, 3 inches deep
Clean, oiled grate set 4 inches above the fire.

Prep: 10 minutes (plus 5 minutes for marinade)
Marinate: 4 to 6 hours
Grill: 20 to 30 minutes.

– Long-handled tongs
– Long-handled basting brush.

A Rock Cornish hen (game hen) is a hybrid chicken small enough for a single serving. The diminutive bird is a cross between a Cornish chicken and a White Rock chicken. It’s sold at 4 to 6 weeks old and weighs just a pound or two. You could substitute poussin (a similar young chicken), quail, or squab.

4 Cornish game hens, about 1¼ pounds each
11/3 cups Sicilian Herb Bath
Oil for coating grill grate
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper.

1. Rinse the game hens inside and out, then pat dry with paper towels. Put the butterflied hens in a large roasting pan so they lie flat in the pan. Reserve 1/3 cup of the herb bath, and brush the remaining 1 cup all over the hens. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 6 hours. 2. Let the hens rest at room temperature before grilling, about 45 minutes.
3. Heat the grill as directed.
4. Brush the grill grate and coat it with oil. Put the hens flat on the grill, with the skin side down. Cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes total, turning and basting frequently with the reserved herb bath and sprinkling with the salt and pepper. When done, the hens will be well browned all over and an instant-read thermometer will register about 170°F when inserted into the thickest part of a thigh.
5. Remove the hens to a platter, cover loosely with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Prep: 15 minutes (plus 5 minutes for marinade)
Marinate: 2 to 8 hours
Grill: 10 to 14 minutes.

– Long-handled tongs.

– Add 2 tablespoons Southern Comfort to the buttermilk marinade to add peach and bourbon flavors.

Quail are sometimes sold semiboneless, meaning that only the wing bones and drumsticks are left intact. The backbone, rib bones, and thigh bones are removed, and a wire frame is often inserted into the bird to hold its shape. Remove the wire frame before working with these birds. The problem with semiboneless birds is that they have very few bones to hold up their original shape when cooked. We prefer working with whole quail. They retain their original shape better, look better when done, and hold stuffing better than semiboneless quail. But either will work for this recipe, and the preparation remains the same.


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