Grilled Cornish Game Hens With Pesto

READY IN: 45mins




  • Cut off the wing tips of the Cornish hens.
  • Split open, cutting through the breast.
  • Split in half through the back by cutting on both sides of the backbone.
  • Using a small, sharp knife, remove the ribs and breastbone.
  • These bones are easily removed and doing so makes it much easier for the diner to enjoy.
  • Slip your fingers under the skin to separate it from the meat. Go in from the side which was next to the backbone. This is where the pesto stuffing goes. Set hen aside while preparing the pesto.
  • Give the garlic cloves a firm whack with the side of a knife to remove the skin.
  • Crush to release the oils then place in a food processor along with the parmesan cheese, pine nuts, basil leaves,parsley,salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Process until finely ground.
  • Slowly add just enough olive oil to make the pesto pasty and moist, but not runny.
  • Place about 2 tablespoons of the stuffing under the skin of each half and evenly distribute it by applying gentle pressure to the skin.
  • Any remaining pesto can be placed in a covered container and refrigerated for several weeks. Because the parsley has been added it will retain its bright green color.
  • Sprinkle the skin with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Lightly drizzle with olive oil.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
  • Close to serving time, place about six pieces of pecan or oak chips in water to soak.
  • Get a charcoal fire ready to grill on or turn on the gas grill if using that.
  • Place the wet wood chips on the coals/ burner to create flavorful smoke.
  • Grill the stuffed hens until richly browned on both sides, about 10-20 minutes in all, depending on size of hen.
  • Serve immediately.