We’re Game for some Hens

by zydecopaws on November 22, 2010


Once again it’s time for the monthly 4-Ingredient Challenge. In case anyone cares, this meal was cooked earlier this month and the post mostly written the night of the cook. So you’ll have to forgive me if it sounds like I’m writing in a time warp. Because I am…

As a refresher, the monthly 4-Ingredient challenge is one where several outdoor cooking bloggers are given four ingredients to prepare as part of a single meal, with the only rule being that the protein must be cooked outdoors over live fire. And that the posts all go up on the same day and at the same time. To be honest, that last part is often more challenging than figuring out what to do with the ingredients.

This month the four ingredients were game hens, sweet potatoes, green beans, and cranberries. And yes, turkey was the original protein selection, but was scaled back to using smaller birds due to participant travel conflicts and the fact that some folks had other plans for Thanksgiving that didn’t involve blogging about the experience.

For those that have been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that the first three ingredients could almost be listed as staples around here (even though we haven’t cooked game hens in awhile). But the cranberries aren’t an issue for us, because my wonderful wife makes a fresh cranberry sauce that is out of this world, and was nice enough to let me assist her in making some for this meal. Ok I admit it; all I did was stir it once while it was cooking and take it out of the oven when it was done. But I could do it myself in the future because I now have the recipe. And so could the rest of you, because here it is.

Brandied Cranberry Sauce

  • 1 pound of fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup brandy or Grand Marnier
  • Zest and juice from one tangerine or orange
  • Optional: Finely grated fresh ginger or finely minced candied ginger, to taste

Sort cranberries and discard any soft or spoiled ones. Rinse and drain berries.

Mix cranberries, sugar, brandy, and orange peel in an 8- or 9-inch baking dish. Bake, uncovered, in a 325 ° oven until berries are tender when pierced and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve warm or cold.

Sauce can be made up to 1 week ahead. To serve warm, reheat in a microwave oven. Makes about 2 cups; 10 to 12 servings.

Here’s what this batch looked like going in the oven. As you can see, we made a bigger batch than the recipe calls for, and a lot of mixing at this point is not required.


This batch took longer than an hour to cook, and went back into the oven after dinner to further reduce the liquid before it goes in the refrigerator in anticipation of being pulled out again for Thanksgiving. Here’s what it looked like coming out of the oven.


The game hens were prepared pretty much like I normally do them. They were cut in half, bathed in a marinade of white wine, soy sauce, granulated garlic, and an herb mixture of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme, and basil. Bubba Ho-Keg was set up for indirect cooking, and they went on the grill cut-side down for about an hour at 350°F. At the 30-minute mark, I flipped them over so that the skin side was down and poured the remaining marinade mix over the interior of the birds. Here’s a photo taken right before the birds were turned over.


The veggie mix was another case of ignoring recipes found on the Internet and combining ideas that sounded good. We’ll call this one…

Sweet Potato and Green Bean Salad with Bacon and Honey Mustard Dressing

  • Two medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch strips
  • 12 ounces fresh string beans
  • 1 sweet white onion, sliced
  • 1 tbls. butter
  • Salt to taste
  • 8 ounces bacon
  • 1/3 cup Honey Mustard dressing

Add sweet potatoes, green beans, onions, and butter to a sauce pan and mix well. Sprinkle salt lightly over the top. Cover, and cook on the BBQ over indirect heat until the sweet potatoes and green beans are tender. Do not overcook, as the sweet potatoes will fall apart when you serve them.

While veggies are cooking, chop the bacon and cook in a sauce pan on the stove. Drain it thoroughly and set aside to cool.

When veggies are done, heat the honey mustard dressing on the stove or in the microwave. Spoon veggies onto plate, drizzle dressing over them, and sprinkle bacon bits over the top. You can optionally serve this over fresh spinach leaves.

Dinner was very tasty, so much so that I feel compelled to show another picture of the final assembly.


And don’t forget to visit my fellow bloggers’ sites to see what they came up with this month. I’m sure that they will show off some equally delicious offerings.

About the “On Our Grills” 4 Ingredient Challenge Bloggers

The BBQ Grail
The BBQ Grail website was created in 2007, initially to document the author’s quest to find the perfect backyard BBQ experience. Since that time The BBQ Grail has become one of the more popular BBQ blogs on the internet and is listed on Alltop.com as one of the top BBQ blogs.

Into the Flames
Rob launched Into The Flames in the summer of 2010 as a way to share his passion for cooking, eating, and exploring food.

Grill Grrrl- Adventures of a Girl on the Grill
Robyn Medlin is the “grill girl” behind grillgrrrl.com. Her focus is on healthy, simple and creative recipes on the grill. She encourages women to learn to grill as it a great way to create healthy, flavorful dishes without all the fuss and clean up in the kitchen. This “grill girl” holds quarterly “Women’s Grilling Clinics” as a way to encourage women to not be intimated by the grill. As a McCormick’s flavor correspondent for their “This Week in Grilling Campaign”, Robyn shares fun, tropical video recipes documenting her grilling adventures from her backyard in Sunny, Hollywood, Florida.

Grill Adventures by Broadcast Marc
Grill Adventures by broadcastmarc was started in March of 2010. According to the author, he started the BBQ thing when he was 30, before that they ate a lot outside and had fun, but when kids came into their life they started serious cooking. Most of it is really healthy. The grill has a special place in his heart because they love to do things outside. Everything he makes is an adventure, and sometimes they use the books. They try to grill as much as they can year round.

Bob’s Brew and ‘Que
Bob started Bob’s Brew and ‘Que in August of 2009 with the intent of sharing his views on food and drink.  Originally focused on BBQ and Homebrew, it was inevitable that the influences of his upbringing in the San Francisco Bay Area and it’s wealth of ingredients as well as his heritage as an American of Japanese ancestry would help focus his blog, as it has his approach to food and drink.

Previous post:

Next post: