This recipe is enough for two large chickens with a reasonably heavy dose.
Make a typical brine and, of course, you can add anything you like to it so feel free to “color outside of the lines” here.
My basic brine recommendation for 2 birds and 1/2 gallon of brine is the following:
• 1/2 gallon of cold water
• 1/2 cup of coarse kosher salt
• 1/2 cup brown sugar
Fill a gallon pitcher with cold water. Add the salt and stir until it is dissolved.
Add the brown sugar and once again stir until the sugar is dissolved into the water.
If you want to add herbs you will probably want to heat a pint of the water from the pitcher, add the herbs, let them simmer for a few minutes to extract the flavor then, let the water cool completely before adding it back into the brine solution.
Place the brine in the fridge to cool before adding the chickens.
Step 2: Brine the Birds
If the birds are frozen as they usually are, take them out of the freezer and put them in the fridge a couple of days before you plan to cook them.
Remove them from the plastic wrap and give them a good rinse under cold water
If you have more of the cornish hens, you will need to make more brine and use a larger container for the brining. A food grade bucket, container or even large zip top bags will work.
Place the birds in the container and pour enough brine over them to cover.
Place the container in the fridge for the entire time they are brining.
Step 3: Rinse and Dry
When the little chickens are finished brining (about 1.5 – 2 hours is usually plenty of time), remove them from the brine solution and rinse them really well under cold water.
In order to help the skin to end up more crispy, consider drying the skin before adding the rub.
To dry the skin, place the hens into the fridge on a couple of folded paper towels for about 2 hours. Dryer skin will end up with more “bite thru” and won't have that chewy texture that is typical for smoked chicken.
Step 4: Add Seasoning
Mayonnaise is basically oil and egg and it is an excellent base for applying rub on poultry. Apply the mayo generously to the outside of the chicken.
Mix rub ingredients together and sprinkle rub onto the chicken top, bottom, sides and anywhere else you can get it. If you are using my own rub recipe, you can be very generous with it due to the low salt.
Remember that this is a finger food and lots of my rub is a good thing.. while you are eating the chicken the delicious rub transfers from your fingers to the pieces of meat to your lips and the world is a happy place!
Step 5: Smoke
Set up your smoker for cooking with indirect heat at about 260°F if possible. The slightly higher temperature will get them done faster, helps to crisp the skin and still gives them about 90 minutes of smoke time.
If your smoker will not go above 225-230°F, that's not a problem, just plan on about 2 hours of cook time.
Place the cornish hens on the smoker grate breast side down. Keep the smoke going with pecan or your favorite smoking wood for at least an hour.
It is vital to monitor and check the temperature of the chicken. Every outdoor cook or chef should have a good digital meat thermometer.
The hens are done when they reach 165°F in the thickest part of the breast and thigh.
Step 6: Serve
Serve the chickens by placing one on each plate with sides. Be sure to make a few extra for those who are extra hungry.
View line-by-line Nutrition Insights™: Discover which ingredients contribute the calories/sodium/etc.
|Serving Size: 1 Serving (1070g)|
|Recipe Makes: 2 Servings|
|Calories from Fat: 1 (0%)|
|Amt Per Serving||% DV|
|Total Fat 0.1g||0 %|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0 %|
|Monounsaturated Fat 0g|
|Polyunsanturated Fat 0g|
|Cholesterol 0mg||0 %|
|Sodium 3697.4mg||127 %|
|Potassium 179.2mg||5 %|
|Total Carbohydrate 109.5g||32 %|
|Dietary Fiber 0.7g||3 %|
|Sugars, other 108.7g|
|Protein 0.4g||1 %|
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Disclaimer: Nutrition facts are derived from linked ingredients (shown at left in colored bullets) and may or may not be complete. Always consult a licensed nutritionist or doctor if you have a nutrition-related medical condition.
Calories per serving: 424
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