Gourmandistan

Easy guinea hen gets less greasy

Guinea hen with cabbageGourmandistan was happy to learn that our favorite baker and pork supplier had decided to raise a flock of guineas and offer them for sale at our local market. We’re fans of the better-than-chicken flavor of guineas, but worried our favorite way to cook poultry would result in a too-dry dinner. Looking for an alternative, Steve vetoed any recipe that called for quartering or deboning, and pointed out that our purchase contained neither liver nor giblets, which some other ideas called for. We found a simple-looking one-pot recipe in Stéphane Reynaud’s French Feasts—which (given our prior experience with the author) we immediately adapted in several ways.

Guinea hen with cabbage

The original recipe called for browning the bird in quite a bit of duck fat, then adding lots and lots of bacon along with cabbage and carrots. We thought this was a bad use of bacon. Instead, Steve rendered the fat from just a couple of rashers, then removed them and added enough duck fat for a nice brown. The rest of the job was just pitching in some wine and stock, adding vegetables and letting the whole thing slowly cook until the guinea became tender. Young leeks made the pot gravy more tasty, and potatoes added another nice way to sop things up. It seemed the guinea could not overcook, and ended up tender and moist both times we’ve made it so far. As a plus, we added back the crisped bacon pieces to the vegetables before serving (because of course we did).

Guinea hen with cabbageIt’s a simple, somewhat foolproof way to enjoy guinea. So good it’s tempting us to have it again soon.

GUINEA HEN WITH CABBAGE

(adapted from Stéphane Reynaud’s French Feastsor Ripailles for those of you outside the U.S.)

  • 1 guinea hen (3-4 lbs.)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1-1/2 TB duck fat
  • 1 c. white wine
  • 3/4 c. chicken stock
  • 3 or 4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 1-1/2″ chunks
  • 8 or so small new potatoes, peeled
  • 3 or 4 young leeks, white parts sliced into 1-1/2″ pieces
  • 1 small green cabbage, core removed, cut into 6 chunks

Season the guinea generously with salt and pepper and bring to room temperature.

Cook bacon in a heavy pot or Dutch oven. Remove bacon and drain on a paper towel, reserving.

Add duck fat to the bacon fat in the pot. Brown the guinea, turning to cook all sides. Add the wine and stock, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover the pot.

After the guinea has braised for 30 minutes, add the vegetables. Cover again and cook for about 45 minutes more, until the guinea legs move freely.

Remove guinea and cool for a bit, then carve. Crumble the bacon into the vegetables and sauce.

Serve guinea meat with vegetables and sauce and lots of crusty bread.

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24 comments

  1. That looks delicious. I often buy guinea fowl at this time of year as Smithfield Meat market seems to have a glut of them in August – my butcher buys them up and sells them off cheaply 😉

  2. So true what you say about Reynaud, exactly the lesson I´ve learnt too with his recipes and books. Great for inspiration, but not so great as actual instructions. It didn´t prevent me though from buying many of his books, and knowing what to expect, I´m living happily everafter with them.
    The bird looks fabulous!!

  3. We used to have two guinea fowl in our flock. We hated them, I wanted to kill them and eat them. But I couldn’t bring myself around to actually doing it. So I let them fly away into nature, where a coyote probably took care of it.

    • Was it the constant pot-racking? Or the standing on your porch and peering in the windows? It was an article we read by some woman totally unnerved by the latter that prevented us from getting some. (Well, that and the myriad of predators here.) My grandparents on both sides raised them, but nobody can recall ever eating them. The first year we went to southern France for a long visit, the food was horrible. There was only one restaurant within a half-hour drive that had good food and I fell in love with a stuffed guinea leg dish and ate it every chance I got. It’s so rare to find fresh ones here.

    • I have bought them frozen from butchers and maybe even Whole Foods. But those were never very good. I’d look at farmers’ markets from vendors who sell chickens. I bet they have them at the Union Square market, at least occasionally. Unlike chickens, which lay all the time (albeit less in winter), I think guineas have a laying season in the spring and that’s the only time you can get the eggs. So, late summer/early fall is I think when you might find freshly butchered ones. (Probably more info than you need. I just remember this from when we were thinking of getting some ourselves to raise.)

      They really are delicious. On the chicken to duck continuum, they’re closer to chickens. But they have a lot of the good characteristics of ducks.

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