Grilled Cornish Game Hen with Cranberry Gastrique

Fear not the Cornish Game Hen! These tasty little birds are everything you love about chicken in a smaller package. In fact, here in the United States, these birds are just smaller versions of the broiler chickens that we are used to. The presentation of this Grilled Cornish Game Hen with the bright and beautiful Cranberry Gastrique makes for an impressive presentation that is perfect for special occasions, but easy enough for a weeknight meal!

Grilled Cornish Game Hen with Cranberry Gastrique Recipe


  • 2 cornish game hens

For the rub:

For the Cranberry Gastrique:


Preheat your Napoleon Grills Prestige 500 to 425ºF, lighting only two of the four burners, so that you create both direct and indirect cooking zones. Fill an A-Maze-N Tube Smoker with cherry wood pellets, and place on the grates, over direct heat.

Prepare the cornish game hens spatchcock style. Using kitchen shears or a sharp chef’s knife, cut along both sides of the backbone to remove it.

Combine the ingredients for the rub. Mix well. Season all surfaces of the hens liberally.

Light the pellets in the smoke tube using a torch.

Place the birds on the indirect side of the grill, skin side up. Cook until the internal temperature reaches 155ºF-160ºF, with the lid closed, about 45 minutes. Then flip the birds over and grill over direct heat with the lid of the grill open, just until the skin is browned and crispy (a few minutes).

You might also enjoy: Barbecue Smoked Turkey

While the hens are cooking, make the gastrique. Combine the maple syrup, cranberries and thyme in a Lodge 8” Cast Iron Skillet over medium heat on the infrared side burner. Bring to a simmer and cook the cranberries until the are broken down. Help them along by crushing them with a wood spoon while they cook. Reduce the heat, as necessary to prevent scorching. When the cranberries are broken down and the mixture thickens, add the vinegars and rosé wine. Stir well and cook until reduced and syrupy. The sauce is fully cooked when a wooden spoon pulled across the surface shows the sauce slowly filling in behind it.

Transfer the gastrique to a food processor and process until smooth.

Using a sharp chef’s knife, divide the birds in half by slicing straight down the breast bones. Serve each half of the Grilled Cornish Game Hen with a drizzle of the Cranberry Gastrique.

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1 Comment

  1. Frank
    October 31, 2018

    I have found that the 165 temp is done according to FDA, but I take my chicken to 200 to get it so that it comes off the bone easily and still is juicy and the skin is more enjoyable.


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