Cornish Hens Marinated with Bourbon, Ginger and Soy

These are charming little things, by Jove.

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The May long weekend is here. Around here that’s the time to kick off summer. And that means barbeque. Every night.

I’ve been slowly easing in to the constant ‘queing for the past six weeks or so. A night here and there if the weather is agreeable. This year will be my fourth barbequing, and my third with this whole “I like to cook” thing. I reckon it’s about time I struck out on my own this summer, with my own creations on the barbeque. I have no idea what I’ll make yet, but it’s fun for a challenge. To get comfortable making your own recipes,  you gotta try other people’s.

For me, on the barbeque, that means one thing: Weber cookbooks, by Jamie Purviance, including the best barbeque book ever: Weber’s Real Grilling. I have two copies, one twice as thick as the other, with pages coming out and sauce on others; it’s a real mess. The other is my backup copy for when the first one falls apart. The recipe that I’m about describe is not from that book, however; it’s from this one.

Cornish Hens are cute. When I cook with them I feel like an English Lord enjoying the spoils of hunting with the lads and the dogs on the country estate circa 1896. Although, if I were cooking them, I’d likely be the cook, not the lord…and female. And I’d have to be on my guard for that charming ne’er-do-well stable hand stealing the lord’s apples and pinching my bottom.


Anyway, in modern times, they’re good for a change once and a while, but I recommend you only get them on sale. They go for about $6 or $7 a pop here, which is not much less than a chicken for way less bird. It’s just not economical.

You can also pretend your a giant when you’re eating them. “I can fit a whole chicken in one hand! I’m enormous! HA HA HA!”


Half-Life head crabs taking a bath in bourbon.

Adapted from Cornish Hens Marinated in Bourbon, Honey and Soy by Jamie Purviance, Weber’s Way To Grill.

Serves 4

  • 2 Cornish Hens, 1.5 lbs each
  • 1 1/2 cups soy sauce
  • 3/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp honey

With poultry shears, cut out the spine of each Cornish Hen, making cuts on either side through the rib cage. Take your knife and cut through the breast bone.

In a medium bowl, mix the marinade ingredients. In a shallow, non-reactive dish, place the hens skin side down. Pour the marinade over the hens. Cover and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours. That marinade is pretty strong, so no overnighters!

Prepare your grill for indirect, medium heat (around 400F).

Remove the hens from the marinade. Put the marinade in a saucepan, bring to a boil for 30 seconds.

Place the hens skin side up on the grill, for 30 – 40 minutes, brushing with the marinade a few times in the last 10 minutes to get that rich, brown colour.

Serve warm, with fruit salad or rice.

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Jason Kemp is a geek trapped in a cool guy's body. He hand crafts software for the web and mobile devices. He excels at user interface design, the deadlift and barbecue. He is @ageektrapped across the internet.

2 thoughts on “Cornish Hens Marinated with Bourbon, Ginger and Soy

  1. Love the photos. Your layout looks great on my iPod Touch by the way–ingredient list doubles as a great shopping list too. Christine

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