Apricot-Glazed Game Hens

The key to gorgeously roasted game hens: securing the legs and wings close to the rest of the meat. Try this tasty apricot-glazed recipe for Easter or a special occasion dinner.

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  • Makes: 8 servings
  • Prep: 40 mins
  • Marinate: 8 hrs
  • Grill: 55 mins

Apricot-Glazed Game Hens

Directions

  1. Remove giblets from hens, if present; if desired, save for another use.
  2. Set a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag in a shallow dish. Add buttermilk, salt, thyme, the snipped sage, the rosemary, garlic, and pepper to bag; stir gently to combine. Add hens to bag. Seal bag; turn to coat hens. Marinate in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours, turning bag occasionally.
  3. Drain hens, discarding marinade. Pat hens dry with paper towels. Using 100-percent-cotton kitchen string, tie drumsticks to tails. Place one holding fork on spit rod, tines toward point. Insert rod through one of the hens, back end first, pressing tines of fork firmly into meat. Repeat with two more hens and two more holding forks. For the last hen, turn hen and secure holding fork onto the end of the rod. Tuck wings under the holding forks. Adjust forks and tighten screws. Test balance, making adjustments as necessary.
  4. For a charcoal grill, arrange medium-hot coals around a drip pan. Test for medium heat above the pan. Attach spit; turn on the motor and lower the grill hood. Let the hens rotate over drip pan for 55 to 60 minutes or until hens are no longer pink (180 degrees F in thigh muscle),* brushing with one portion of the Apricot Mopping Sauce twice during the last 15 to 20 minutes of grilling. (For a gas grill, preheat grill. Reduce heat to medium. Adjust for indirect cooking.** Grill as above.)
  5. Remove hens from spit. Using kitchen shears, a sharp knife, or a cleaver, cut hens in half lengthwise. Serve immediately. If desired, garnish with orange slices, sage leaves, and thyme leaves. Pass the remaining portion of the Apricot Mopping Sauce.

From the Test Kitchen

*Test Kitchen Tip:

To check temperature of the hens, briefly turn off rotisserie motor and insert an instant-read thermometer into each hen's inside thigh muscle.

**Test Kitchen Tip:

If your grill has a rotisserie burner, turn off all burners except for the rotisserie burner. If your grill does not have a rotisserie burner, use indirect heat.

Grilling Instructions

If you don't have a rotisserie set up, grill the game hens directly on the grate, no turning required. Here's how: Prepare and marinate game hens as per steps 1 and 2. Drain hens, discard marinade. Pat hens dry with paper towels. For a charcoal or gas grill, place game hens, breast side up, on grill rack over a drip pan. Cover and grill over medium heat for 50 to 60 minutes or until tender and no longer pink (180 degrees F), brushing with one portion of the Apricot Mopping sauce twice during the last 15 to 20 minutes of grilling. Transfer game hens to a serving platter or cutting board. Using poultry shears, a sharp knife, or a cleaver, cut hens in half, lengthwise. Serve immediately.

Test Kitchen Tip

The key to turning out gorgeously roasted game hens is securing the legs and wings. With no loose parts, the spit will be well-balanced and rotate smoothly, resulting in evenly browned skin.

Apricot Mopping Sauce

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan combine apricot preserves, pure maple syrup, mustard, and white wine vinegar. Bring to boiling, stirring occasionally; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes. Divide mixture into two portions.
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Nutrition Facts (Apricot-Glazed Game Hens)

  • Per serving:
  • 511 kcal ,
  • 25 g fat
  • (7 g sat. fat ,
  • 5 g polyunsaturated fat ,
  • 11 g monounsaturated fat ),
  • 176 mg chol. ,
  • 965 mg sodium ,
  • 38 g carb. ,
  • 1 g fiber ,
  • 29 g sugar ,
  • 31 g pro.
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