Smoked Cornish Hen With Jalapeno Butter Injection

Francis Bourque

Cornish hens, chickens, and turkeys equal boring meat to me. In fact, I totally dislike cooking poultry for either myself or my family. It is boring to cook and it either tastes bland or requires a load of spices to crank up the taste.

Not anymore!

For this recipe, I have created a poultry injection that re-invents seasoning chicken, Cornish hens, or anything else with feathers. The flavor is so good that you won’t need sauce!

For this cook, I was provided with a lot of rubs from Kamado Joe. I will be using two of them for this recipe. I can say honestly that these spices are phenomenal and just as tasty as their names (Honey BBQ, Peach BBQ, Garlic Butter, Warm BBQ, etc.). They have more than thirteen assorted bottles. I don’t have a favorite, as they all are tasty.

For this recipe, I’ve used the following rubs: KJ’s Peppered Sea Salt and Honey BBQ.

Let’s cook!

The Prep

  1. Prepare your jalapeño butter injection according to the recipe below.
  2. Get a nice rounded Cornish hen or any other poultry. Make sure it’s fresh.
  3. Prepare your bird. Remove the giblets and any gross stuff, rinse the bird with cold water, pat it dry and “spatchcock” it (remove the back bone with poultry shears and flatten it out on your cutting board).
  4. Inject your poultry. (Tip: To avoid some disgusting mess, have your bird inside a pan when injecting, so the excess liquid won’t drip on your floor or countertop.)
  5. Make sure to inject every part of the bird (breast, legs, thighs, and wings).
  6. When you’re done with the injection, place your bird inside a plastic container in the fridge overnight. (I’m not a fan of leaving meat sitting in aluminum, but that’s just me.)

“No Sauce” Cornish Hen

“No Sauce” Cornish Hen

“No Sauce” Cornish Hen

“No Sauce” Cornish Hen

By the way, do you know when to stop injecting? You stop when your poultry appears to have almost doubled in size or seems about to burst. My bird became the Incredible Hulk and split its own skin!

Injection Recipe

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 jalapeno, pureed (I used a Magic Bullet blender)
  • 1/4 habanero pepper, pureed (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons KJ’s Honey BBQ rub or your favorite rub
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey

The Cook

  1. Prepare your Kamado Joe or ceramic grill for a temperature of 275 degrees F. For the fuel, I’m using oak lump charcoal and Jack Daniel’s Charcoal briquettes.
  2. Get one nice chunk of cherry wood; I’ve used Smokinlicious. (Tip: Chicken can get over-smoked very quickly, so a little smoking wood goes a long way.)
  3. Prepare your cooker for indirect cooking. For Joe users, set up your Divide and Conquer grate at the second level (with the star rack) for your heat deflector and put your cooking grates in the top position. For users of other ceramic grills, use an indirect setup.
  4. Get your poultry out of the fridge and season the meat well by going under the skin with the KJ’s Honey BBQ rub, or the rub of your choice. Then season the skin with the KJ’s Peppered Sea Salt or a 50/50 mix of kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper. For color, sprinkle some KJ’s Honey BBQ rub on top, but not too much.
  5. Bring the thing to the smoker.

Kamado Joe Smoker

"No Sauce" Cornish Hen

“No Sauce” Cornish Hen

“No Sauce” Cornish Hen

The Smoke

Insert a probe thermometer in your poultry to monitor the cooking process, and place your poultry on the grill to smoke for about 1-1/2 to 2 hours, or until the meat reaches 130 degrees F. (Time is approximate due to variations between types and sizes of poultry. For this cook I used a small Cornish hen.)

  1. When your meat reaches 130 degrees F, baste your chicken with olive oil, crank the temperature to 350–375 degrees F, and roast the bird until it reaches 155 degrees F. This is your secret for crispy skin. (Tip: Wrap the tip of the wings in aluminum foil to avoid burning them.)
  2. When your meat reaches 155 degrees F, glaze it with your favorite barbecue sauce. For this cook, I’ve used the “Meat Mitch” barbecue sauce. (Tip: add about a tablespoon of honey and a teaspoon of water to your barbecue sauce. This will give you a nice glaze and a wonderful flavor.)
  3. Take the meat out when it reaches 165 degrees F. Make sure the juices run clear with no trace of blood.
  4. Get your bird on a plate and let it rest for about 10 minutes.

“No Sauce” Cornish Hen

“No Sauce” Cornish Hen

“No Sauce” Cornish Hen


Now eat that thing—without sauce!

This recipe first appeared in Issue 35 of StoryQue magazine.

About the author 

Francis Bourque

“I am a barbecue enthusiast who has been food-obsessed since my early teens. I build my repertoire by following the techniques of renowned chefs and barbecue professionals. My grandma’s cooking abilities have also been an inspiration to me, and many of my recipes are based on hers. I want to promote Canadian barbecue through my recipes, and by introducing others to barbecue professionals from the Great White North.” —Francis Bourque


You May Also Enjoy These...

  • Looks great. But didn’t see the actual prep for the injection. I assume peppers would be puréed with some of the broth. The butter would need to be melted. Not clear what the next step would be. Sorry if I missed this step in the recipe.

    • That’s a good question. I would soften or melt the butter and puree the peppers and then throw all the ingredients in with the peppers to mix it. From there just pour it into your injector.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}