Smoked cornish hens are delicious all on their own and they are the perfect-sized chicken but these amped up citrus rosemary cornish hens are marinated in citrus juices, olive oil and rosemary for flavor that will blow you away!
I used the Landmann propane smoker for these but any smoker will work great for these as long as you can maintain normal smoking temperatures or a little higher.
Setup your smoker for cooking these at 275°F if you can. Unlike many of the things that we cook in the smoker, chicken doesn't benefit so much from low and slow. The only reason for cooking them slow is to give them more time with the smoke.
For smoke, use orange wood or citrus wood if you have it. Any fruit wood will work great or even pecan, oak or hickory if that is all you have.
I did not use the water pan with these to help the skin to dry and hopefully crisp a little more.
When the smoker is ready, place the chicken directly on the smoker grates skin side up or you can just place the racks right in the smoker.
Give them smoke the entire time if possible and expect them to get done in approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes if you maintain 275°F.
Obviously, if you have to cook at a lower temperature, then it will take longer for the cornish hens to finish.
I did not baste them or turn them during the cooking process.
When they reach 162°F, they can be removed from the smoker. They will continue to cook for a few minutes (carryover cooking) and the temperature will continue to rise a few degrees bringing them up to the proper safe temperature of 165°F.
Note: There is no way to tell if food is safely done without an accurate thermometer. I used the “Smoke” by Thermoworks to ensure these were properly done and safe for my guests.
Smoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.
It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.