" O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Jailbirds

If your in for the long haul, there's nothing better than a nice game hen to fill you up and keep you going.

You will need:

  • 1 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4-5 quarts cold water
  • 4 Cornish game hens
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • 4 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups vermouth
  • 1 friendly cellmate, preferably smaller than oneself


1. Combine the salt, sugar, and water in a large stockpot and stir until dissolved. Submerge the hens in the sugar-salt solution and soak, refrigerated at least 45 minutes and up to 3 hours.

2. In a small saucepan, combine the maple syrup, mustard, garlic, vinegar, and olive oil. Simmer 10 minutes.

3. Remove birds from brine; rinse thoroughly and pat dry. (Steps 1 and 2 may be omitted but salt brining will yield a much more succulent product.)

4. Preheat oven to 400F. Place oven rack in the center of the oven. Place a rosemary sprig and 2 lemon quarters in each bird and arrange breast side down on a rack over a large roasting pan. Pour 1/2 cup of vermouth in the pan to prevent smoking. Brush hens well with the maple glaze and roast for 30 minutes.

5. Flip hens over, brush with glaze and add remaining vermouth to the drip pan. Continue roasting an additional 30-35 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh registers 165?-170? on an instant read thermometer.

6. Remove hens from oven and let them rest 10 minutes before serving.

7. Pour collected juices from the drip pan and any remaining glaze into a small saucepan. Skim off excess fat, bring to a boil and simmer 5 minutes. Serve hens whole, 1 per person, and pass the warm sauce around the table. Jalapeno cheese grits and country collards are great accompanying side dishes!

Serves 4

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