This recipe is simple and straightforward. The only flavorings are olive oil, salt, and black pepper. This allows the “chicken-y” flavors to take center stage, I think.
Because the bird is so small, it’s easy to overcook it. While the brine helps keep the bird juicy, it’s important to be aware of the bird’s internal temperature and take it out after it reaches 160 degrees F (it will coast up to 165 F with a bit of carryover cooking).
Because the bird is so small, it doesn’t need to be trussed up. Only the legs need to be tied together.
I make my bird in a mini rotisserie/toaster oven, but it will do well in a conventional oven, too.
- The brine
- 5 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 quarts cool water
- The hen
- 1 Cornish game hen, thawed
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt (yep, more salt!)
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- In a gallon-sized freezer bag, add in water and salt. Slosh around until the salt is fully dissolved. Then, plop the bird in the bag, doing your best to push out the excess air so the brine soaks into every part of the hen. Allow it to brine in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour (and up to 4 hours).
- Preheat the rotisserie oven or a grill with a rotisserie attachment to 425 F (Alternatively, if you’d like to cook this in an oven, then preheat it to 425 F also.)
- When read to roast, take the hen out of its brine bag and lightly rinse the brine off the hen. Blot the excess moisture from the hen with paper towels. (This is important! Try to get the bird as dry as you can for crispier skin.)
- Smear the outside of the hen with olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with salt and black pepper.
- Skewer the hen on a rotisserie stick vertically (from neck through legs) and attach the hooks that hold the bird in place according to your rotisserie’s setup. Tie the hen’s legs together with some twine. Roast in the rotisserie oven (or on a grill with a rotisserie attachment.) (Alternatively, you can bake the hen in an oven on a rack in a shallow pan).
- Cook time may vary from 40 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the size of the hen and your oven’s temperatures. You’ll know when it’s down with the thickest part of the thigh measure 160 degrees F or slightly above. Take it out right away to prevent overcooking!
- Let the hen rest and cool off for 5 minutes, uncovered, before serving.