Our meat CSA this month (Pat's Pastured, fantastic) included a gorgeous Cornish hen, the perfect opportunity for a summer's night grilling. This also answered the question of what to do with all that pesto from my Garlic Scape Pesto Instructable.
Step 1: Prep the Bird
- 1 Cornish Rock Hen or Chicken
- 1/3 cup Garlic Scape Pesto (see here.)
With a heavy knife or poultry shears, remove the backbone. Reserve livers for another use (Dirty Rice!).
Step 2: Flatten, Stuff and Skewer
If there is a large hunk of skin still attached at either end, remove it. Open the bird like a butterfly, pressing down evenly on the breastbone.
Pull the skin away from the meat starting at the neck, and shove pesto (I suggest gloves) as deeply as you can until the entire breast is somewhat covered. Repeat the process with the skin on the thighs and legs. The goal is for 90% of the pesto to be beneath the skin. Finish off by rubbing the remaining pesto onto the outside of the bird. At this point you're more interested in smearing the olive oil in the pesto onto the meat rather than worrying about an even coating of the green stuff...
To help keep it flat on the grill, run a skewer through the meat of the thigh and both breasts. Insert a second skewer through the meat of the leg and the breasts.
Step 3: Grill It
Make a banked fire in your grill. For a gas grill, heat up one side of the grill to high, set the other side as low as possible. Let the fire cook down a bit, and the put the bird on the cool side of the grill, legs facing the heat.
Cook for 30 minutes and check the temp. Insert a probe thermometer into the deepest portion of the breast -- you're aiming for 120 degrees F (49 C). When there, flip the bird onto the skin side, placed over the hot portion of the grill, legs toward the center.
Cook another 10 minutes, roughly, until an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (63 C). Remove from the grill and let rest 5 minutes. De-skewer, break it down, and serve.