I’ve done a few of these hens before and they are a great way to feed the family with very little time into the preparation, except for the brining process. Brining the hens are going to add a lot of flavor to them. I’ve done this with chicken before and was surprised at the difference it made in the flavor.
The first thing I did was mix up a brining solution to soak the hens. I started with a clean bucket large enough to hold 2 gallons of water and the 4 hens I’m smoking. Here are the ingredients I mixed into the bucket:
2 Gallons water
2 cups Kosher salt
3 cups Sugar
4 TBS Black pepper
¼ cup Worcestershire
1 TBS Thyme
1 TBS Poultry seasoning
1- 12 oz. bottle Corona
Mix all the ingredients together in the water then place the hens into the water and use a plate weighted down to keep the hens completely submerged. You will need to keep the brine mixture between 30 and 40 degrees so I would suggest placing the bucket in the fridge. Let the hens brine for about 4 hrs. or even overnight. The great thing about this process is that you can add other spices, herbs, flavorings, etc. in to the bucket with the salt water solution and it will get drawn into the meat as well, and thereby flavor the meat even more.
After removing the hens from the brine solution, dry them off and season the outside with whatever seasoning you like most. You should place all 4 hens on the same rack to ensure they get equal heat and smoke. You will want to maintain a temp of 225 degrees for about 3 hrs, or until the internal temp in the breast reaches 165 degrees. Any higher temp than that could dry out the meat.
I used a combination of Mesquite and Cherry to smoke mine and the results were awesome!!! I pulled them from the smoker at 165, let them cool for 15 min. and tore into them!!! I served them with a side of baked beans to complete the meal. These cook so well in the smoker that it has become a favorite of mine. I think I'll do some Pheasant this fall, another recipe for the future. These can also be cooked in the oven as well, adjust the temp to 350, and they turn out just as good! Cooking time will be less.