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Barbecue Secrets

Recipes of the Week: SW Chicken Club and Tuscan Grilled Game Hens

Jun 20, 2013

Tuscan Grilled Game Hens

Makes 2 main course servings or 4 servings as part of a multi-course meal

This is a delicious way to enjoy Cornish game hens. Serve these with some grilled vegetables and your favorite risotto, polenta, or pasta with a creamy sauce. If time allows, season the hens and refrigerate them for several hours before cooking them.

2 Cornish game hens

1/4 medium onion

3 large cloves garlic

1/4 cup | 50 mL tightly packed fresh basil leaves

1/2 tsp | 2 mL dried basil

1/4 tsp | 1 mL dried oregano

1/4 tsp | 1 mL dried marjoram

4 slices (11/2 to 2 oz | 40 to 50 g) pancetta, chopped

5 Tbsp | 75 mL high-quality balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp | 15 mL extra virgin olive oil

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1/2 to 1 cup | 125 to 250 mL dry white wine

1/2 cup | 125 mL olive oil

fresh parsley or thyme sprigs, for garnish

Wash the hens and pat them dry with paper towels. Mince the onion, garlic, fresh and dried herbs, and pancetta by hand or in a food processor. Blend 2 tsp | 10 mL of the vinegar with the 1 Tbsp | 15 mL oil and add it to the mixture. Season it with salt and pepper.

            Cut out the hens’ backbones and open them out flat, skin side up. With your palm, firmly press down on the breast area to flatten the hens. Stuff most of the herb mixture under the skins of the thighs, legs, and breasts. Rub the rest all over the hens.

            Prepare your grill for medium indirect cooking with a pan underneath the cooking grate to catch the drippings. Combine the wine and the 1/2 cup | 125 mL oil. When your grill is up to temperature, place the birds skin side up on the grate above the drip pan. Grill them for 20 minutes, baste them with the wine mixture, and turn them. Cook them for another 20 minutes, basting and turning them every 5 minutes or so, until the internal temperature at the base of each thigh is 160˚F | 71˚C. If the hens are not golden brown by this time, crisp them, skin side down, over direct heat for a few minutes, watching out for flare-ups, before taking them off the grill.

Let the hens rest for 5 minutes tented with foil. Drizzle them with oil, season them with salt and pepper, and garnish them with fresh parsley or thyme sprigs before serving them.

Southwestern Grilled Chicken Club Sandwich

Makes 2–4 servings

You may never go back to Subway after eating this juicy, tender chicken club sandwich, a great post-golf Saturday lunch. Serve it with cold beer or a crisp, fruity white wine.

For the rub:

1 Tbsp | 15 mL kosher salt

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated garlic

1 Tbsp | 15 mL granulated onion

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground coriander seed

1 Tbsp | 15 mL ground toasted cumin seed

1 tsp | 5 mL cayenne

1 tsp | 5 mL freshly ground black pepper

To make the sandwiches:

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, fillet removed

extra virgin olive oil

4 soft white hoagie buns

softened butter

granulated garlic

1 lemon

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 cup | 250 mL Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Aïoli (see recipe below)

1 bunch fresh arugula, washed and dried

2 large ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 purple onion, peeled and thinly sliced

Combine the rub ingredients in a medium bowl and set the rub aside. Prepare your grill for medium direct heat.

            Place the chicken breasts, one at a time, in a large resealable plastic bag (or between two sheets of plastic wrap), and pound them with a mallet or champagne bottle (they’re sturdier than regular wine bottles) until they are flattened to an even 1/2 inch | 1 cm thickness. Place the flattened breasts on a platter or cookie sheet and sprinkle each breast generously with the rub on both sides. Drizzle the breasts with olive oil to moisten the rub.

            Prepare the buns by slicing them in half, buttering them, and sprinkling the buttered sides with the granulated garlic. When the grill is hot, place the breasts, oiled side down, on the cooking grate, close the grill, and cook them for no more than 1–2 minutes per side. After you have turned the breasts, put the buns on the grill, buttered side down. When the breasts are just barely done and the buns are nicely toasted, transfer the breasts to one clean plate and the buns to another. Drizzle the breasts with a little olive oil and a squeeze of lemon and season them with salt and pepper.

            Generously slather the toasted buns with the aïoli and make a bed of arugula on the bottom half of each bun. Place the chicken breasts on the arugula and top them with the tomato and onion slices, again seasoning the works with a little salt and pepper. Close the sandwiches, slice them in half and serve.

Margie’s Chipotle and Roasted Garlic Mayo

Regular visitors will know I use this sauce in other recipes – it’s great on almost anything. Here’s the recipe again, for your convenience.

11/2 cups | 375 mL mayonnaise

1 whole head roasted garlic, cloves squeezed

out of their skins (see recipe below)

1 tsp | 5 mL finely ground cumin (preferably made

from toasted cumin seeds)

1 Tbsp | 15 mL chopped chipotles in adobo sauce

(add more chipotle if you like it hot)

 Roasted Garlic

Here’s a great kitchen staple that works well baked in the oven or planked on the grill. Roasted garlic is as versatile as it is delicious. Use it as a flavor enhancer in mayo, an enricher of mashed potatoes, and a flavor note in soups and sauces—or just spread it on a piece of toasted French bread.

Preheat the oven to 350°F | 175°C (or preheat your grill in preparation for plank-cooking). With a sharp knife, slice off the top of a garlic bulb, just enough to expose the tops of the cloves. Drizzle it with a little olive oil, season it with salt and pepper, and wrap the bulb tightly in foil. Place it in the oven (or on a soaked, preheated? plank in your grill with the heat turned down to low), cut side up, and roast it for about an hour, or until the garlic is soft and lightly browned. Once it’s cool enough to handle, you can squeeze the head and the roasted garlic comes out like toothpaste.


The recipes above are from Barbecue Secrets DELUXE!, which is available at fine bookstores and online through sites like and in Canada, and It's also available as an e-book from places like iTunes and For more about Ronnie, visit

Photo copyright John Sinal Photography. Used with permission. All rights reserved.