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Grilled Cornish Game Hens with Lemon and Sage

Serves 4

I love the delicate flavor of Cornish hens, which are actually small chickens, and the light marinade in this recipe is the perfect enhancement. Other than the marinating time which can be done ahead, this is a quick dish that is perfect for a weeknight dinner or easy entertaining. If you are unable to use an outdoor grill, cook the hens under the broiler for an equally delicious presentation.


Remove the necks, gizzards and livers from the Cornish hens and save for another use (see notes below). Split each hen by cutting along one side of the backbone with kitchen shears or sharp knife so it will lay flat. Place in a large baking dish. Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over the hens, making sure it covers all of the surfaces. Cover with plastic wrap; place in the refrigerator and marinate at least 1 hour, preferably several hours or overnight. (If marinating for more than one hour, do not add the salt until just before cooking.) Grill over medium-indirect heat, preferably on a covered grill, until thoroughly cooked, about 20 minutes per side, depending on grill and size of hens. Remove from grill, tent with foil and let rest about 10 minutes before serving. This is good hot, warm or room temperature.

Notes: The necks and gizzards from the hens can be placed in sealable bags and frozen to add to a future broth or stock. As for the livers, I just sauté them for a cook's treat. Some hens are quite large and can serve two people. However, it is so much fun to get your own little bird, so I try to get smaller ones and, if not, I usually still serve one per person. Leftovers are delicious.