Cut Cornish hens lengthwise through the backbone using kitchen shears, and flatten.
Combine salt and next 4 ingredients; rub evenly over hens. Place hens in 2-qt. zip-top freezer bags or 2 large baking dishes. Whisk together lemon juice and olive oil; drizzle lemon juice mixture over hens. Seal or cover, and chill 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Remove hens from marinade, discarding marinade.
Place hens on cooking grate of grill, and top each with an aluminum foil-wrapped brick. Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium heat (300° to 350°) 18 to 20 minutes on each side, replacing bricks on hens after flipping. Turn grill off, and let stand, covered with grill lid, 5 to 8 minutes or until done. (If using a charcoal grill, transfer hens to a 350° oven, and bake 5 to 8 minutes or until done.) Garnish, if desired.
*Cast-iron skillets may be substituted for foil-wrapped bricks. Place a sheet of foil between each skillet and hen.
These were excellent! Made for Thankgiving and appreciated how little prep was involved. They were a beautiful presentation and so moist and flavorful. I misinterpreted instructions and cut through breastbone as well, so they were cut in half. But didn't need bricks this way and cooked very evenly. Charcoal grill that wasn't overly hot with 12 mins for back, then 15 for breast, than 5 on backs away from heat to finish cooking through was perfect. Will definitely make again.
I have made this recipe twice for guests and both times everyone raved about the flavor. Just make sure that you don't cook it too long or it can dry out. The flavors in the marinade are delicious. I doubled the oil and lemon juice for 8 cornish hens, the original amount was not enough to moisten all the birds. This will be great for the summer.
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