Expand Your Grilling Horizons
Grillmasters are always looking to push the envelope and expand their grilling horizons. While standard fare like hot dogs and hamburgers will always find its way onto a backyard barbecue’s menu, some grillmasters prefer to try new things and surprise their friends and family members along the way.
Ambitious grillmasters hoping to surprise their guests should consider the following recipe for “Grilled Herb-Rubbed Game Birds” from Peggy Knickerbocker’s “Simple Soirees” (Stewart, Tabori & Chang).
6 game hens, squab, or poussins,
cut in half
1 teaspoon salt
For the marinade
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme or rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch of crushed red pepper
Herb sprigs, for garnish
Pat the birds dry and season them generously with salt.
In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, olive oil, and red pepper flakes.
Do not rinse the salt from the birds, but make sure they are very dry; pat with paper towels. The secret to crispness is very dry skin. Stuff a little of the marinade under the skin of the birds and rub the rest on the outside. Cover, refrigerate and marinate the birds for 30 minutes or overnight. Save any remaining marinade.
Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat a gas grill to medium.
When the coals are medium-hot, place the birds on the grill, skin-side down. Cook for about 15 minutes, until they are brown and crisp. Turn and continue to cook for another 15 to 20 minutes, brushing with a little of the remaining marinade. To check for doneness, make an incision at the point where the thigh meets the body of the bird, if the juices run clear and there is no visible redness, take them off the grill. Smaller birds will take a little less time, about 15 minutes on the skin side and only about 10 minutes once flipped.
Transfer the birds to a warm platter and scatter a few sprigs of herbs over the tops.