Grilled Cornish Game Hens with Chimichurri Sauce

“Take Monday Off” read the subject line of an email my husband had sent to me on the last day of a beach vacation without him.  Thinking he had forwarded a link to a travel review for a weekend escape in the famous Wall Street Journal column of the same name, I opened the link to find  a dozen close up photographs documenting  the step-by-steps execution of the Williams-Sonoma Grilled Cornish Game Hens with Chimichurri sauce recipe and a note saying “I tried my best.”  Well if that is not love, I don’t know what is!  Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I present my guest chef, Chris Hardinger, and his very fine contribution to the blog.  He did say the recipe was a lot of work but this taste tester declares it was worth it!  Delicious, different and company-worthy.  I just might go away more often!


From Williams-Sonoma with Chris’ own photographs:

Here’s a creative way to use zesty chimichurri sauce in an impressive and unexpected presentation. Cornish hens are flattened and cooked under the pressure of a heavy brick, saving cooking time and creating a gorgeous color and crisp skin. Don’t have bricks lying around? Use a pizza stone, cast-iron pan or other heavy, flameproof pan to weigh down the game hens while they’re cooking.

Grilled Cornish Hens with Chimichurri

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

For the chimichurri:

1 cup (1 oz./30 g) lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup (1 oz./30 g) lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 cup (8 fl. oz./250 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup (3 fl. oz./80 ml) fresh lemon juice

2 Tbs. grated lemon zest

2 Tbs. grated orange zest

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

3 Cornish hens, about 1 lb. (500 g) each

3 Tbs. honey

Olive oil for brushing

To make the chimichurri, combine the cilantro, parsley, extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, zest, garlic, salt, red pepper flakes and cumin in a blender or food processor and process to a smooth puree. Cover and refrigerate.

To prepare the Cornish hens, first trim off and discard the extra fat from the necks and just inside the body cavities. Place 1 hen on a cutting board, breast side down. Using poultry shears, cut through the flesh and bone from the neck end to the tail along each side of the backbone. Remove the backbone completely. Turn the hen breast side up and spread it open. Cut out the breastbone and discard. Cut off the wing tips and any loose skin. Pull down on the legs to lay them flat. Turn the hen over and, using the palms of both hands, press down on the hen to flatten it as much as possible. Repeat with the remaining 2 hens.

Rub the hens all over with the honey and place them in a ceramic or glass baking dish or a large zippered plastic bag. Pour half of the chimichurri over the hens and turn to coat. Cover the dish or seal the bag and marinate the hens in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or up to overnight, turning several times.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a gas or charcoal grill. Separately wrap 3 bricks in heavy-duty aluminum foil. Brush the grill rack with oil. Remove the hens from the marinade and place, skin side down, on the rack. Discard the marinade. Position a brick on top of each hen so that it covers as much of the bird as possible. Grill until the skin is golden, 8 to 10 minutes.( Chris said it was more 10-12 minutes)

Wearing oven mitts or grill gloves, remove the bricks. Using metal tongs and a large spatula, carefully turn over the hens. Replace the bricks and continue grilling until the hens are dark golden brown on the second side and cooked through, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into a thigh away from the bone registers 165°F (74°­C), 8 to 10 minutes longer.

If serving more than 3 people, cut the hens in half through the breast. Transfer the hens to a serving platter and brush with some of the reserved chimichurri sauce. Serve immediately. Pour the remaining chimichurri into a small bowl and pass at the table.

Recipe adapted from Good Food to Share, by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan


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29 thoughts on “Grilled Cornish Game Hens with Chimichurri Sauce

  1. Oh, your Chris is one of a kind. Yes it did read like a lot of work but it looked so tantalizing. Let me know when you want to go away and when we can return to this!!!

    I guess if he can spend time like this in the kitchen he is making the most of his time standing. I hope he gets some relief soon.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Wow!!!!! You surely taught him well. Congratulations to Chris on this first guest appearance on your Blog. What a great job Chris, the pictures are very well done and recipe looks really good too!!

    • I will pass on the compliments, Kath. He does all the grilling and loves Cornish hens so I had sent him this recipe a long time ago ’cause I wasn’t game to try it, oun intended!!! He really outdid himself!

      Sent from my iPad


    • I will pass on your accolades, Teresa. Thank you. I was impressed too! He even plated them with a contrasting towel for the picture. I guess that’s what happens when you live with a food blogger too long! Very tasty welcome home.

      Sent from my iPad


  3. Oh yeah baby!!! What a wonderful “welcome home honey” meal! You must go away more often. A superb guest post by your darling husband. I do like the Williams Sonoma recipes – reading through these ingredients, this dish had to be a winner. Lucky you Johanne!

    • I should have picked you up on the way home from Rehoboth so you could share the dish too Loretta! W S does put out great recipes, always seasonally welcomed. Your comment made me laugh. Always welcome hearing from you. Hope we can meet at Chanticleer sometime this summer:-)

      Sent from my iPad


      • Ahh yes, Rehoboth. I was to have gone last week with my girlfriends too, but we had to postpone the trip at the last minute. Two of them have gorgeous homes there, closer to Cape Henlopen, where it is less crowded. Would love to meet at Chanticleer sometime. 🙂

      • We could have crossed paths and not known it!!!! love the Henlopen section. We are right on the boardwalk in Star of the Sea. My father in law’s place.

        Sent from my iPad


  4. Officially welcoming you to the Fiesta Johanne, even though I saw this amazing dish a couple of days ago. Thanks for bringing it to the party. I know folks are gonna go ga-ga over it 🙂

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