I served these spicy grilled game hens on a bed of romaine lettuce with a spoonful of the Calabrian chile paste for garnish. It's a very delicious, flavorful, moist chicken.

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Ingredients

2
Original recipe yields 2 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified

Directions

  • Lay a game hen breast side-down on a work surface; use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to cut the backbone out of the game hen, cutting through each side of the bone from top to bottom. Remove the backbone. Use a sharp knife to slice through the cartilage of the breastbone. Flip game hen breast side-up, flatten bird lightly with your hands, and twist the wing tips underneath the wings. Repeat for remaining game hen.

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  • Place white wine vinegar, vegetable oil, rosemary, orange juice, garlic, egg, Calabrian chili sauce, orange zest, kosher salt, and anchovy fillet into a blender. Pulse several times to combine; blend until marinade is smooth and creamy.

  • Place game hens into a resealable heavy plastic bag and pour in marinade. Squeeze out air, seal bag, and refrigerate at least 4 hours but preferably 8 hours to overnight.

  • Preheat grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.

  • Remove game hens from marinade, reserving marinade. Dry birds on paper towels. Season breast sides with salt.

  • Place game hens with breast sides down onto the preheated grill and cook until skin shows browned grill marks, about 5 minutes; rotate hens 45 degrees and grill 5 more minutes to make crosshatch grill marks.

  • Flip game hens onto their backs, brush with reserved marinade, and grill with the lid on for 5 minutes. Brush hens with more marinade. Repeat, cooking 5 minutes, then brushing with more marinade, until game hens are deep golden brown and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of a thigh reads 160 degrees F, about 35 more minutes. Flip hens breast sides down, brush once more with marinade, and cook with lid closed until marinade has glazed onto chicken, about 5 more minutes.

  • Transfer hens to a serving platter, let rest for about 5 minutes, and serve.

Cook's Note:

Calabrian pepper paste is very similar to sambal oelek. Look for it at your finer grocery stores or specialty stores.

Nutrition Facts

698 calories; 45.8 g total fat; 397 mg cholesterol; 1779 mg sodium. 13.5 g carbohydrates; 56.5 g protein; Full Nutrition

Reviews (14)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
07/29/2014
We loved this recipe; I had sambal chili paste on hand and used that. The chili orange and garlic gave great flavor while the vinegar in the marinade made the chicken oh so tender. This one is a keeper. Read More
(5)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 2 stars
01/29/2019
Never again. The marinade was a total flop. It added nothing to the flavor of the chicken and merely resulted in wasting some fairly expensive ingredients. Read More
22 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 17
  • 4 star values: 3
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 1
Rating: 5 stars
07/29/2014
We loved this recipe; I had sambal chili paste on hand and used that. The chili orange and garlic gave great flavor while the vinegar in the marinade made the chicken oh so tender. This one is a keeper. Read More
(5)
Rating: 5 stars
07/29/2014
We loved this recipe; I had sambal chili paste on hand and used that. The chili orange and garlic gave great flavor while the vinegar in the marinade made the chicken oh so tender. This one is a keeper. Read More
(5)
Rating: 5 stars
06/30/2016
WOW! NOT one person at my house hated this not even my picky grandson..... WOW!!!! just great!.... Read More
(3)
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Rating: 5 stars
05/03/2015
Very moist and flavorful. I made it with game hens Needed to substitute sambal oelek for calabrian chili sauce. Will add more next time not spicy but the citrus shined through with a new flavor combination that we enjoyed! Not the same old stuff. Thank you Chef John Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
04/01/2016
We loved this recipe even though I didn't have Calabrian sauce and I forgot the egg (I was distracted by a kitchen full of noisy adults). I used Texas Pete hot sauce instead of Calabrian but I will find the "right stuff" next time. I cooked two small chickens instead of Cornish hens since we had four adults eating. I cooked the birds on a Green Egg running about 500 F. This caused the chickens to be somewhat overdone but I like mine to be right at the point of falling apart. The chickens looked and tasted great. Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
12/13/2016
While I had a hard time finding Calabria Pepper Sauce I finally found it and made this recipe to original "specs". It was excellent. I'll put this into my grilling rotation. Read More
(1)
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Rating: 5 stars
06/11/2017
Made for a graduation party and the guests raved! It is simply grilled chicken but there seems to be something really special about this recipe. I made a double patch as it was a big guest list. I accidentally purchased whole calabrian chilies from Amazon but it didn't seem to be a problem. I wanted to try a dish that had calabrian chilies in it as Bobby Flay is always using them. It was a fun and successful experiment! Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
01/01/2018
Easy to do and very tasty! I have added some ginger to the marinade and marinated for 24 hours. Grilled both sides for 15 minutes and then completed by roasting in the owen. Served with roasted potatos mixed with rosemary and garlic oil. Read More
(1)
Rating: 5 stars
04/08/2018
It was incredible! I started chicken on grill with bricks on it. After it got some char I moved it to the kitchen. I finished them on 400 on a cookie sheet basting every 10 minutes. This was one of the best chicken dishes I have ever made. It was incredible and juicy. The flavors were like nothing I've ever had. We heated the marinade up and drank it like soup. =) Don't be afraid to cook a little longer than normal (maybe to 170 ). It is so ridiculously juicy; it can handle it. Thank you Chef! I am a better cook because of you! Read More
Rating: 4 stars
02/20/2018
we enjoyed this dish and actually used the cornish hens.. as always i deviated a little using what i had on hand.. subbed red wine vinegar for the white.. mayo for the veg oil and omitted the egg all together.. used dried rosemary (1/4 the amount).. subbed garlic chili sauce for the calabrian.. and used regular table salt for the kosher.. we used our Marinator to speed up the marinating process as we only had a couple of hours.. i'm sure it would have been better with more time.. we heated the leftover marinade and basted throughout.. very tasty.. i'll definitely try this again on chicken pieces.. ty for the recipe Read More
Rating: 2 stars
01/29/2019
Never again. The marinade was a total flop. It added nothing to the flavor of the chicken and merely resulted in wasting some fairly expensive ingredients. Read More