Fall weather is most definitely here. The days are crisp and the nights are cold. Winter is just around the corner. I love this time of year, but sometimes, especially on foggy days, I long for summer barbecues. To ward off the Gloomy Autumn Blues, I find that a nice oven broiled chicken dish will do the trick. (These are hens I would normally cook on the barbecue grill in the spring and summer). The nice thing about broiling a cut-up game hen is that it has all the wonderful flavors of a outdoor cooking, with a lot less work and a lot less time. These yummy hens can be broiled up in a snap for a delicious week-day meal. Just remember to rub your hens in the morning so the wonderful blend of spices can seep deeply into the meat.
NOTE: If you plan to serve these birds with your favorite mashed potato recipe, remember to start your potatoes BEFORE you start the hens. It’s far easier to keep the potatoes warm while the birds finish cooking than it is to keep the hens moist while finishing the potatoes.
Mesquite Broiled Game Hens
2 Game Hens
1/2 Cup Olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons Mesquite Seasoning, divided (McCormick makes a great Mesquite Blend)
4 Tablespoons Smoked Paprika, divided
2 Tablespoons Minced Garlic, divided
Turn hens breast side down. With good kitchen scissors, cut along back bone on either side to remove bone completely. Discard bone.
Turn hens over, flatten to split breast bone. Cut leg/thigh meat from breast meat. Each hen will produce two dark meat sections and one large white meat sections. Don’t worry about the difference in size, dark meat takes longer to cook than white meat. Rinse hens and pat dry.
In a small bowl, mix 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons mesquite seasoning, 2 tablespoons smoked paprika and a tablespoon of minced garlic. This will create a thick paste.
Gently lift skin and rub seasoned paste into the meat. Turn hens over, and brush meat with paste mixture. Place hens into a bag, seal shut and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat broiler. Remove hens from bag and place on a broiler pan, skin side up. Mix remaining oil and seasonings. Brush skins well with mixture.
Place pan under the broiler, about 6-8 inches from heat source. Broil for about 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes.
Remove pan from oven, flip hens over and return to broiler for 10-15 minutes longer or until meat is no longer pink.
Remove pan from oven, cover with foil to retain heat and let birds rest for about 10 minutes.
This would be a good time to finish the sides.
Arrange on a platter, garnish with parsley or rosemary if desired and serve with your favorite sides such as garlic mashed potatoes and buttery corn.