Chuck Dressler offered many great recipes his 2011 Talk of the Table column, ending all his articles with his trademark “As always, enjoy the cookin’ and then the eatin’!”
Time to bring out the grill. These recipes are from one of Chuck Dressler’s favorite and well-worn cookbooks: 365 Great Barbecue and Grilling Recipes by Lonnie Gandara.
VIETNAMESE GRILLED 5-SPICE CORNISH GAME HENS
The recipe will feed four but if you’ve got some light eaters and/or some heavier side dishes you might get six out of it.
- 4 Cornish game hens
- 4 garlic cloves
- 2 shallots or 3 scallions, white part only
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder (in your local grocer’s spice/check Asian Foods section)
- 1 ½ tablespoons fish sauce (this bottled sauce will be in the Asian Foods section)
- 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 ½ tablespoons dry sherry
Using a heavy cleaver or poultry shears, cut the hens in half through the breast and on one side of backbone. Press down on each breast to flatten it as much as possible.
In a food processor, grind together the garlic, shallots, and sugar until finely minced. Add the salt, pepper, 5-spice powder, fish sauce, soy sauce, and sherry to the blender and blend thoroughly. Rub the mixture all over the hens, cover and marinate at room temperature for 1 to 3 hours. Make sure to check the hens every so often to ensure they have the marinade on them.
Prepare a hot fire. Cook the breasts on an oiled grill for 15 minutes. Turn the breasts over and grill them for 15 minutes longer, or until the juices run clear when pierced with the tip of a knife. Serve the breasts with individual bowls of Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce (below).
NUOC CHAM DIPPING SAUCE
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Serrano or other small hot chili peppers, trimmed and split open
- 3 tablespoons fresh (or bottled) lime juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons sugar
- ¼ cup fish sauce
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 small carrot, peeled and finely shredded
- In a small bowl, combine the garlic, chilies, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and water. Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 10 to 15 minutes.
- Strain the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl; discard solids. Stir the shredded carrot into the sauce. Cover and refrigerate until serving time.
PLUM DELCIOUS GAME HENS
The recipe says will feed four – six, so the same note applies as to the hens above.
- 4 Cornish game hens, about 1¼ pounds each
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Prepare a hot fire. Rinse the game hens with cold water and pat dry. Using a heavy cleaver or poultry shears, cut the hens in half through the breast and on one side of backbone. Press down on each breast to flatten it as much as possible. Season both sides of the birds with salt and pepper.
Place game hens skin side down on a well-oiled grill set 4 to 6 inches from the coals. Warm the Spicy Plum Sauce (below) in a small heavy saucepan on the side of grill. Grill the hens until the skin is browned on bottom, about 6 to 8 minutes.
Turn the birds over and grill them until the second side is lightly browned, again 6 to 8 minutes.
Brush the hens with Spicy Plum Sauce. Continue to grill, turning and basting generously with the sauce, until the outside is nicely browned but not charred and juices run clear when meat near leg joint is pierced, about 4 to 6 minutes.
SPICY PLUM SAUCE
- One 10-ounce jar of plum jam or preserves
- 1 tablespoon dry white wine or fresh lemon juice (I prefer the wine J)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
In a smaIl saucepan, heat the jam or preserves over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until melted and warm, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to blend well. Simmer 2 minutes.