Israeli Spring Game HensSteven Raichlen
This spice-rubbed, grilled spatchcocked baby chicken is always crusty on the outside and so moist inside it oozes when you cut it.
Israeli Spring Game Hens
- Yield: Serves 4
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt (kosher or sea)
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper or more black pepper
- 4 game hens (each 1 to 1-1/4 pounds)
- 2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Lemon wedges
- Pita breads
- Tel Aviv Tomato Relish (see step 5)
Step 1: Place the salt, turmeric, cumin, black pepper, and white pepper in a small bowl and mix well with your fingers or a fork.
Step 2: Remove and discard the fat just inside the neck and body cavities of the game hens. Remove the packages of giblets, if any, and set them aside for another use. Rinse the game hens, inside and out, under cold running water, then drain and blot them dry, inside and out, with paper towels. Spatchcock the game hens. Make 2 deep slashes to the bone in each leg and thigh. Trim or fold the wing tips behind the back. Arrange the game hens on a baking sheet. Set aside 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil for basting the game hens. Lightly brush each hen on both sides with the remaining olive oil and season each generously with the rub.
Step 3: Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat it to medium.
Step 4: When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate. Arrange the hens on the hot grate skin side down. Grill the hens until they are darkly browned and cooked through, 8 to 12 minutes per side. Use and instant-read meat thermometer to test for doneness, inserting it into the thickest part of a thigh but not so that it touches a bone. The internal temperature should be about 170°F. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, using a clean basting brush, baste the hens on both sides with the second batch of olive oil. Watch for flare-ups; if they occur, move the hens to a cooler part of the grill.
Step 5: Transfer the grilled game hens, skin side up, to a platter or plates. Serve the hens with lemon wedges for squeezing, pita bread, and tomato relish, if desired.