Whoa! Right?!! Omg, were these delicious!!! (Patting little self on little back.) But before you think for one second that they’re burnt and scrunch your nose up, let me clarify right off the bat that they aren’t. The fancy whole grain mustard I used formed the most incredibly tasting, tender crust that I’ve about ever had! Even the hubs was in total awe and said that they were the best he’s ever had, too! That meant the world to me, because coming up with your own recipes is not an easy task! Let alone grilling something like this. Butterflied hens or chicken takes a bit more figuring than burgers! I don’t want to jinx myself, but so far so good I haven’t wrecked a single thing yet!! Luckily, I guess I just have a knack for the grill! Maybe it was all those years in Girl Scouts that’s paying off? Dunno, but very thankful! I loved being in the Scouts! The camping trips were so much fun! And I just loved cooking breakfast in the morning on our little homemade “stoves” made out of coffee cans with a vent cut out of the back bottom placed over our own little fires! They got hot enough to flip pancakes, scramble and fry eggs, cook sausage links to perfection, and even fry hash brown potatoes! We even made little “ovens” out of triangular foil tents, open to the bonfire side, and baked a cake! So maybe that’s where it all started. I’ve always been a lover of the outdoors, and there’s just something so special, peaceful and calming about going out to the deck and grilling something wonderful!
So way in the back of my cupboard had been a sad, neglected, jar of “fancy mustard”. We all have one or two. Schmancy ones that come in Christmas baskets that are going to be saved and hoarded for a “special event”. Well, months pass and those special events either never materialize, or the poor, lonely jar of mustard is just plain forgotten! So I decided to crack open that sad and horribly depressed jar and make it happy! I swear I heard it say, “Thank you! I won’t let you down!”, when the lid popped and the incredible, savory perfumes filled the kitchen….and WOW!!! It smelled wonnnnderful! I immediately grabbed a small spoon and gave it a little taste…I will NEVER let jars like this sit in the back row, nose-bleed seats again! THIS precious baby is coming out front and center! 😉 I immediately looked them up and holy cow! They have a ton of great stuff there! But here’s the jar that I have so you can see…
Uhm, yeah. Now you can see why I was so excited to experiment with this! Looks dang good, doesn’t it?! Whole grain mustard is my favorite, I just LOVE the crunch and juicy pop of those tiny little seeds!! So I butterflied the game hens and coated them well with a few of my favorite seasonings, loaded up a lined baking sheet with all of my grilling paraphernalia, grabbed a couple of ice cold beers, (yeppers!), and headed out to the grill along with that coveted jar of mustard, of course!! 😉
Never, never, never baste your chicken, or whatever you’re grilling, with your sauce until the very end if at ALL possible! It will burn, and burn to a blackened mess that’s not even pleasant to eat. We all have had that tasting experience where it tastes and feels like you’re eating gritty black lava. Yuck. I mixed the mustard even-steven with some light oil and only grilled the hens for an additional 2 minutes per side once coated and it was perfect. You want a bit of “charring” but not “burnt to a crisp” if that makes any sense. Like “dark toast” vs. “even-the-birds-won’t-touch-it” blackened. You want it just as you see above. (*And note the pic makes it look much darker than it actually is.)
These grilled Cornish Game Hens are a sure thing to please even the pickiest of palates, and though inexpensive, look like a million bucks and wow guests! Figure on 1 whole one per person with hearty appetites, and a half of one apiece for those of us with petite appetites. If there are lots of appetizers and goodies being served beforehand and alongside, a half might just do everybody nicely. So plan ahead and pre-halve them before grilling so that the pretty skin doesn’t get ruined later when you go to cut them and serve. I so very much hope that you give grilling some awesome hens a shot before the snow starts to fly! It will be bitter cold before we know it, so take advantage of the ideal fall weather while it’s here! Have a fabulous day, and when the leaves reach their peak, be sure to press and save some to add inside Christmas cards going out across the country! 🙂
BUTTERFLIED ROCK CORNISH GAME HENS with MESQUITE & STOUT ALE WHOLE GRAIN MUSTARD
2 Rock Cornish Game Hens, thawed
2 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. dried thyme, crushed between your fingers and thumb to release flavor
1/2 tsp. crushed coarse ground black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
butter flavored cooking spray
canola or vegetable oil for grill grates
2 Tbl. whole grain mustard, any kind that suits your fancy, (but the Dean & DeLuca’s was VERY good)
2 Tbl. canola oil
With kitchen scissors, snip along each side of backbone from tail to neck and remove. (*You can remove as much of the back as you’d like.) Place, skin side-up, onto a flat surface and press on breast bone to flatten. Place onto a baking sheet underside-up.
In small bowl mix the next six ingredients for the dry rub. Sprinkle half of the rub evenly onto undersides of the hens, turn, and sprinkle the rest evenly over the tops, (skin sides), getting some under and around the wings and legs. Spray tops with a little butter-flavored cooking spray. Set aside.
Heat grill to high heat. When hot, turn off outer two grates and oil center two with tongs and an oil-soaked paper towel. Place hens skin side-down onto center grates, don’t move, and turn down heat to med/med.-low. Close lid and grill for 12-15 minutes keeping temp at 375 degrees.
Turn with a sharp spatula, re-close lid, and continue to grill over lower heat, (maintaining about 350 degrees), for another 20-25 minutes until just about done.
In small bowl, mix mustard and oil and baste tops of hens well with half of the mixture. Turn and baste undersides with rest. Grill, with lid off, for 1-2 minutes. Turn and grill basted underside for another 1-2 minutes. *If it looks like they aren’t quite done, just simply move to a cool side of the grill placing skin side-up and close lid and grill for another 3-4 minutes. But DO NOT over-cook. They will cook further while resting and you don’t want to dry them out. Chicken should always be moist and juicy.
Let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.