I am a newlywed on a budget, just trying to make healthy and inexpensive meals for my husband and I to enjoy. He eats a lot, so cost is a big factor. Though I work 3 jobs, I manage to find time 6 nights a week to cook a full dinner for us both. I am constantly looking for new recipes that are moderately healthy, taste great, and won't break the bank.

On the side, I also own a brownie business called Gersheybars. My passion and love for cooking started when I was just a small child, baking with my mom and grandmother. The brownie recipe has been passed down through 5 generations and I am thrilled to finally have an outlet to share them with everybody else. Friends and family have helped spread the word and made my business as successful as it is today.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Smoked Cornish Game Hens

This was our pre-Thanksgiving test, to see just what's involved in smoking a bird. We picked up 2 cornish game hens at the store and planned to season them and smoke them on the grill. First, we made a salty-sweet brine and injected the thighs, breasts and legs with a bit of the brine, to help keep the bird juicy while cooking. Then we made a paste with roasted garlic, sage, thyme, salt, pepper and shallots, and stuffed that under the skin. We removed the innards and saved them to make the gravy. The hens went into a large pan and the grill was heated to about 325 to begin the smoking process. It took about 3 hours, mainly because it was our first attempt and we weren't quite used to keeping the fire going and adding charcoal to the fire. But the finished product was delicious, perfectly cooked, and topped with a luscious gravy. Can't wait for Thanksgiving when we do a big turkey the same way!

  • about 1 cup chicken stock
  • about 1/2 cup water
  • pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
These measurements are estimates. We just sort of threw them into a bowl until it tasted good, heated it up to dissolve the sugar and honey, then let it cool before injecting it into the bird.

Herb Rub
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1 head roasted garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
Combine all ingredients. Run fingers under skin of hen to make room for the rub. Generously coat the hen, under the skin, with the herb mixture.

  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • chicken innards
  • Remaining brine mixture from above
  • chicken stock may be necessary if you don't have enough brine leftover
Over medium-high heat, pan fry shallot and tarragon with 1 tablespoon oil. Fry for 30 seconds. Add chicken innards to pan. Turn frequently until brown on all sides. Add about 1.5 cups of brine mixture to pan, bring to a boil. Simmer gently, stirring about every 10 minutes or so, for about 2 hours. If liquid reduces too much, add more brine, or chicken stock, to keep simmering. When gravy is a bit thick (takes a few hours), remove the innards from the pan and discard. Lightly spoon gravy over birds when they come off the smoker.

All of these recipes/procedures are sort of estimates because we just flew by the seat of our pants. I tried to write down things as we went, but nothing was exact.

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