Memorial Day Highway Chicken

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What great stories you can tell about how these hens got flat
Memorial Day Highway Chicken
Memorial Day Highway Chicken

What great stories you can tell about how these hens got flat. Flattened “Highway” chicken cooks evenly on the grill. Put potatoes wedges “chips” on the grill at the same time, and have a BBQ feast!

A few years ago, for Glendale’s Cruise Night, I had a Route 66 party BBQ, and I made Route 66 chicken which was inspired by recipes at Hot Smoked BBQ. I was wracking my brain this morning, trying to think of how to do the two Cornish Hens I’m making for my cousin’s visit on Memorial Day. I thought of that chicken, and am going to prepare it today.

My cousin made chicken legs to supplement the Cornish hens – sadly, they could not be flattened. As a result, there was not enough room on the grill to make the potatoes, but guess what? I have extra coals – potatoes tomorrow!

I will say this is the best chicken I have ever had. Seriously, it was nice and moist because of the can of beer I had in on the grill, and the flavor was out of this world. It cooked evenly, a definite keeper!

Update! Tonight, June 2, 2012, I’m making Highway Chicken again, and the BBQ is in the front of the house, and a neighbor backs into the driveway, to the side, and he’s almost running over my BBQ! And I’m screaming – “CHICKEN! DON’T RUN OVER MY CHICKEN”. Finally, I get his attention, and I tell him the story, and he says, “I didn’t know what you were talking about” as he pulls out a bag of El Polo Loco. Wow, THIS chicken almost WAS a highway chicken!

The good thing is, I got to make those BBQ chips tonight, and they were a hit!

Memorial Day Highway Chicken

What great stories you can tell about how these hens got flat
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Resting: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings (slide to adjust): 4 servings
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Diet: Kosher
Difficulty: Moderate
Newsletter: 2022-04-30
Calories per serving: 641kcal

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  • 2 Cornish hens
  • Wood chips, soaked
  • 1 can of beer
  • Dry Rub
  • Glaze

Dry Rub

  • 3 Tablespoons Sea Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns, freshly ground
  • 4 Tablespoons Garlic Powder
  • 8 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons Mustard Seed, ground

The Glaze

  • 2 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon Mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
Ingredients necessary for the recipe step are in italic.


  • Wood chips
    Soak the wood chips in water at least an hour before starting up the grill.
  • 1 can of beer
    To get the grill started, put a drip pan filled with beer on one side of the grate, and the coals on the other. You will be cooking the birds over the drip pan.

The Rub

  • 3 Tablespoons Sea Salt, 4 Tablespoons Black Peppercorns, 4 Tablespoons Garlic Powder, 8 Tablespoons Brown Sugar, 4 Tablespoons Mustard Seed
    If you have a small food processor, put everything in the bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • If you don’t have a small food processor, then put all ingredients in a non-reactive bowl and mix everything thoroughly. Break any lumps of brown sugar using the back of a spoon, or use your fingers.
  • Use about 2 to 3 tablespoons of rub for every 2 pounds of chicken.

The Glaze

  • 2 Tablespoons Honey, 1 Tablespoon Mustard, 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
    Stir the glazing ingredients until you have a smooth sauce.

Flatten Birds

  • 2 Cornish hens
    Cut out the spine,
  • Blot dry using paper towels,
  • Fold it open and push it flat,
  • Stick in two steel skewers crosswise to keep it flat,
  • Dry Rub
    Use your fingers to rub the dry rub on the skin and all the crevices. Make sure that you put some in the cavity of the chicken, too.
  • Put the chicken skin side down, legs facing the coals over the drip pan, and roast for a half an hour
  • Glaze
    Turn skin side up, legs facing away from the coals, and start putting the glaze on. Glaze every five minutes or so.
  • Brush the glaze on all sides of the meat during the last half hour of smoking. Make sure you cover all corners and crevices!
  • Repeat mopping every five or ten minutes or so in order to build up a nice and thick layer of shiny glaze.
  • You should be all done in an hour. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 F / 73.8 C. Use an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the thigh.


You can have all kinds of fun with this recipe – telling people how the chicken got so flat – got run over by a truck!


Serving: 273gCalories: 641kcalCarbohydrates: 54gProtein: 5gFat: 33gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 170mgSodium: 7227mgPotassium: 796mgFiber: 5gSugar: 41g
Got Questions? Let me know!Mention @arbpen or tag #arbpen!

7 thoughts on “Memorial Day Highway Chicken”

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    • Yup, they were really good, too. You could use fingerling potatoes, too, if you don’t want to cut wedges.

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