Posted by: Lisa | April 4, 2010

Panini press use ala Alton Brown

On occasion a few nice little things find their way to me through this site. Last month my bonus was being asked to do a product review. Since reading how Alton Brown used his panini press to grill up Cornish game hens in an interview several years ago, I have been contemplating a purchase. Last fall at the Smithsonian event in DC, Alton talked again about using the panini press to cook up the hens. Unfortunately, I neglected to ask about what kind he owned and what else he did with it. I always seem to get off topic with AB at those things.

Then came the offer from the nice folks at They offered the product review and seeing that I was pining for a panini press, that became the item selected. Unfortunately, the first one I selected was out of stock and no longer available, so the nice guy at CSN Stores, Sean, let me have a slightly more expensive model–Haier HPG1400BSS Panini Maker.


Of course, the first item for the new press had to be AB’s method for the hen. The process begins with butterflying the hen. AB give a fantastic tutorial on butterflying hens in the Fowl Terrority episode. It is basic and straightforward. Using kitchen sheers, I prefer to use my sturdy and sharp 6 inch chef’s knife, slice down either side of the hen’s backbone to remove it. Once the hen is more open, removing the keel bone is much easier. Just slice down the membrane on the inside of the bird and bend it back, then run your fingers down either side of the keel bone to remove it.

Now the bird is butterflied and ready to meet the grill. I decided to add some flavoring to the hen with salt (kosher, of course) and a rub. The rub was season salt, adobo seasoning, smoked paprika and dried thyme. Put the rub on the bird and let it sit for a few minutes while the panini press is heating up.

Place the hen skin side up on the press and close the lid. At this point, I pressed to flatten the bird more. Cook the hen for 12 minutes.

Once the birdy was crisp, I threw some asparagus on the grill. Cooked them until tender and had some sear marks on it.

The verdict on making Cornish game hens on a panini press… well there’s a reason Alton is my favorite culinary personality. The man is brilliant!

This is an awesome method to prepare the little chickens. I love doing them on the grill in the summer and this makes an excellent wintertime alternative.

The skin becomes extremely crisp under the grill. Since the hen is butterflied, the dark meat cooks at the same time the white meat; thus, not drying it out during cooking and remains juicy. If you have a panini press, this it highly recommended!



  1. What about the press? Did you like it?

  2. I loved it. It did a great job on grilling the hens and the asparagus. There's a cool little bar on the side that holds the lid open, I liked that for when finished with the grill and it had all of that grease and bits on it the lid can stay open while cooling off.I need to make some sandwiches to see if it is good for the purpose! LOL!

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