A tangy, gingery Malaysian marinade gives these juicy, grilled Cornish hens tremendous flavor that pairs well with a spicy-sweet peanut sauce.
Grilled Peanut-Lime Cornish Hens
- 1/4 cup rice wine or sherry
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons natural peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons peanut oil, plus more for grilling
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, plus more for garnish
- 3 Cornish hens or small chickens (about 1 1/2 pounds each), quartered
- Lime wedges, for serving
- Cooked sticky rice, for serving
- 1/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
- 1 tablespoon peanut oil
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons sambal oelek or other Asian chile sauce
- 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 small fresh red chile—stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
Marinate the Hens
In a medium bowl, whisk the rice wine with the soy sauce, peanut butter, lime juice, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, crushed red pepper, 2 tablespoons of peanut oil and 3 tablespoons of cilantro. Place the Cornish hens in a very large, resealable plastic bag and pour in the marinade. Press out the air, seal the bag and carefully turn to coat the hens with the marinade. Refrigerate for 24 hours, turning the bag occasionally.
Make the Peanut Sauce
In a small food processor, pulse the peanuts until finely ground. In a small saucepan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic, tomato paste and sambal oelek and stir over moderately high heat until the garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in the stock, hoisin sauce, peanut butter and sugar and bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking, until thick, smooth and slightly darkened, about 3 minutes. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and let cool completely. Stir in the ground peanuts and red chile.
Light a grill. Remove the hens from the marinade and wipe off any excess; reserve the marinade. Brush the grill with peanut oil and grill the hens over indirect heat, basting occasionally with the reserved marinade for the first 15 minutes and turning often, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the inner thighs registers 160°, about 40 minutes. Transfer the Cornish hens to a platter, season with salt and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve the hens with the peanut sauce, lime wedges and sticky rice.
MAKE AHEAD The peanut sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Stir in the ground peanuts and red chile just before serving.