Wow, Thanksgiving is just down the week from here. I hope you’re almost ready for that house full of family and friends. Over the years I have had a few different types of Thanksgiving meals. Most involved ham and turkey, while some involved a trip to a restaurant or warming something frozen up at the last minute. As you can expect, there were better and worse in all those categories. A few weeks back I decided to deep fry a turkey this year for our family and friends. I have never deep fried a turkey before so I needed practice. Bring on the Deep Fried Cornish Hens, these allowed me to experiment with the BIG vat of really hot oil over the extremely hot propane flame….. I Learned quite a bit these past weeks, and I think I am ready to cook the 14 lb turkey this coming Thursday. I will be sharing that post next week so come back next Monday, I am sure it will be interesting.
So, my rule of don’t cook a thing for the first time for an event lead me to try a few different “foods” this past week to get a handle on the deep fryer. Our local big box sports store placed a propane turkey fryer kit on sale for $35.00, and I have wanted one for a while, so I figured what the heck and bought it. I had to promise Michelle not to burn the house down with it though, so I did spend a while reading up on fryer safety. My first attempt at using it resulted in a over cooked turkey breast and some pretty darn good Almond Parmesan Cauliflower Bites. After thinking about it I decided to deep fry the Cornish hens, and I love Cornish Hens. I treated them like I will the turkey (only smaller portions, shorter brine times and shorter cook times).
I want to slip this in….We had these last evening for dinner and they were great, Michelle pointed out how some folks are just not the turkey eating type and that these would be a really nice dish to make for a small group in place of a large turkey. I agree so consider this as a “suggestion” for a turkey alternative this Thanksgiving.
So, here we go.
Deep Fried Cornish Hens for Man Food Mondays
- 1 cup of Kosher salt per gallon of water
- 1 tablespoon of oregano per gallon of water
- 4 20oz Cornish hens thawed
- 1 tablespoons canola oil or peanut oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh black pepper per hen
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder per hen
- Yellow mustard
- 1 to 2 gallons of oil – either canola or peanut oil
- Un-wrap the Cornish hens and thaw in the refrigerator over night.
- Take 2 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Stir in the salt and oregano. Then, place it in the refrigerator to cool.
- When the Cornish hens have thawed, remove them from the water and place them in a clean pot with the brine mixture. Add enough water to cover the Cornish hens.
- Return to the refrigerator for 2 hours. Use a plate to hold the hens under if necessary.
- While the hens are in the brine setup your fryer. Depending on the diameter of your pot, it should take around 1 1/2 gallons of oil. You can determine this more accurately by placing the hens in the cooking pot and pouring in enough water to cover the hens by 2 inches. Mark the pot and remove the hens to the brine.
- Remove the hens from the brine and pat dry inside and out. Place on a rack and allow to air dry before seasoning about 30 minutes.
- ALWAYS add oil to the pot while the burner is not lit.
- Make sure your pot is totally dry before heating up the oil and that the hens are also dry, hot oil does not like water.
- Coat the hens with canola oil/peanut oil and season with the black pepper and garlic top an bottom
- Coat each hen with the yellow mustard making sure to get it into the joints.
- Add the oil to the cook pot if you have not already done so, light the burner and bring the oil temperature up to 350°.
- Once the cooking temperature is reached turn off the burner to add the hen, cook one at the time. Re light the burner and cook for around 7 to 10minutes each. it will be done when the temperature measured at the thigh is 170°. Remove from oil and drain then wrap in foil and place in the oven at 200 to keep warm while the remainder are cooked. IF your pot is large enough you may cook more than one at a time but allow about 1 to 2 inches between them.
Some points to be aware of abut cooking in a propane deep fryer.
Set it up on a flat surface away from the house or any flammable items (your cars or trucks are a good example)
Have a B-C rated Fire extinguisher on hand at all times while cooking with oil.
Gloves designed to protect you from the hot oil, I use welding gloves :).
If you are cooking with a deep fyer setup it will have a oil thermometer as part of the equipment. You need to check it for accuracy. The best way to check it is to boil a pot of water and hold it in that water, it should read right around 2 11 to 220° F if t does not read then you either need to make a note of the variation and figure that into you temp readings or replace it with a more accurate one.
I said this before and it bears saying again, while the oil is hot if you are going to add something to the pot turn the burner off before you do. This means the food you want to cook or if you adding oil to the pot. Cold or cool foods can cause the oil to bubble up and splash all over you. HOT OIL hates water and it will jump out of that pot and get you if it can.
Having said all this, the Cornish hens were amazing. they were moist and tender. We had them with a Brussels sprout salad and mashed potatoes. I will be making these again.
Check us out on Monday next week and we will talk about cooking the fried turkey.
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.