Jerk Cornish Game Hens
- ACTIVE: 1 HR
- TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS plus overnight marinating
- SERVINGS: 4
Bradford Thompson's jerk sauce is loosely based on his wife Kerry-Ann's excellent family recipe; the couple is hoping to bottle it and sell it in stores. The mix of fiery Scotch bonnet chiles, scallions and spices creates a complex, deep-flavored paste that's amazing on grilled chicken or game hens.
- 4 Scotch bonnet or habanero chiles, stemmed and halved
- 5 small scallions, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 teaspoons chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon dark rum
- 2 tablespoons water
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 Cornish game hens (about 2 pounds each)
- In a blender, puree the Scotch bonnets with the scallions, thyme, garlic powder, brown sugar, soy sauce, dark rum and water. Season with 1 tablespoon of kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper.
- Using kitchen scissors, cut out the backbone of each hen. Press down on the breasts to flatten the hens. Set them in a baking dish and coat them all over with the jerk paste. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 300°. Set the hens on 2 large rimmed baking sheets and bake for 45 minutes, until firm but not browned or cooked through.
- Meanwhile, light a grill. Grill the hens over moderately high heat, turning occasionally, until cooked through and lightly charred in spots, about 20 minutes. Transfer the hens to a platter and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Fiery jerk sauce obliterates the flavor of almost any wine. Instead, serve these hens with beer. Jamaicans would drink the local Red Stripe, a mild lager-style beer; for an American equivalent, look for the lightly malty Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
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