Monday, May 6, 2013

Taste like Chicken

So why did the Guinea Hen (Chicken) cross the road?)

That’s corny but here’s what’s not. When the girls of the house learned my next entry would be about Guinea Hens, they flipped out. It was like I had just stormed into the kitchen with a fully plumed be-headed peacock in one a hand, a bloody hatchet in the other. I suppose their thinking is it’s not proper to prepare (much less talk about) any bird that doesn’t rhyme with picken. So if the idea of cooking Guinea Hen startles you, every time I mention Guinea Hen, you think Chicken.   

They not only crossed the road, they invaded our property last week (the Guineas, not the girls, who have been firmly in charge of this place since day one), noisy and acting like they owned the place, kind of like Hells Angels (both of ‘em).  I really didn’t mind (the former group).  If I did I could have just released the hound.

That’s Leonard, not exactly a hound, but he’ll chase anything with half a heartbeat and
I ‘m sure he’d give them plenty reason to roost. I just admired them.  They remind me of bus load of elderly women getting dropped off at an outlet mall.  “Cackle, cackle, talk, talk, wait up Marge, is that a sale? My bunions hurt. That bus driver is cute….”  Just having a time of it, eating tics and mosquitos, that alone should be reason for a law requiring us all to have them. Why they are not the state bird of half the northeast I do not know.  They should at least be Connecticut’s.

I guess it’s all for the better.  You can’t eat state birds, and let me tell you, that’s a good thing because these birds are delicious.  So as I watch them in the field I can’t help imagining one of them on a plate.  Seriously, I’m not a natural born killer, more so a butcher, so it’s unlikely I will be ringing any of their necks but in the event I have a postal moment (or just get really hungry) you might find one of these birds on your milk cartoon.

I wouldn’t do it.

I couldn’t do. I can’t catch them.  I’m getting slower and they can fly. It’s not fair.  It’s much easier to go to online at have one overnighted.  Grocery stores don’t normally carry them, they don’t exactly fly off the shelves (get it, fly off…nevermind), but they should because they taste better than, not like, chicken.

 I’m going to ask you to bring your A game to this cooking show because I am going to demonstrate something that will have your dinner guest exclaiming “you should open a restaurant!”  Take my advice and don’t.  But do pay attention here.  Here is a Guinea Hen dressed.

I never have understood that term because to me she looks undressed. 

Dice the following:

1 cup onions
1/2 cup celery
1/2 cup carrots
1 T garlic pasted
1/2 cup white wine
5 springs of fresh thyme

I’m going to get on my chef soapbox now and preach a bit about birds.  I wouldn’t roast a Guinea whole.  The breast and legs are different, the former tasting, chickenish (a good one), the latter more turkish, the bird not the country.  So we’re going to break them down, that is, cut them into parts.

Start with the leg.  Make an incision just inside the thigh, cut until you feel the leg free.  Now grab what would be the knee (if she was a running back), and pop the hip bone free. Now cut to remove the leg. Do the same for the other side,

Yeah, I know the picture is blurry, try holding a camera and cleaver at the same time. My regular film crew called in sick from the Mayo, or something like that in Spanish. It was loud and they were slurring their words, not sure.
For the breast, find the breast plate. It’s hard to miss on a Guinea.  Insert your knife on the left side and slice between the meat and the carcass.  Keep the pressure of the knife against the carcass. Use your other hand to peel back the meat.

Once you’ve freed the breast, you will arrive at the wing. I like to cut through the joint here so that the wing is still attached. Repeat for the other side.

Let’s braise the legs first as they take longer to cook.  Season with salt and pepper, then brown them skin side down in the pan.

Turn them over, add your onions, carrot,celery, and garlic.  Add a splash of white wine and the thyme.  Add another ½ cup water.

Cover with lid, and place in the oven ( 400 degrees).  This should take 40 minutes to cook.  Meanwhile, throw this little bonus in the oven also. That’s sweet potatoes, rosemary, basil, lemon, olive oil.

Your welcome.

Now season the breast, and sear them skin side down.

Once they are good and brown, turn them, place them in the oven for no more than five minutes.   You could actually finish it on the stove top, but these bouts of browning are actually splatter festivals and you need to volunteer right now for kitchen clean up duty.

Remove both pans from the oven and let both parts of the Guinea rest while you assemble the rest of your meal. 

  My daughter, Devan  took the photo below.  Looks like something out of a cookbook. 

 Mine has Kale, of course, and the Sweet Potatoes I showed you above.  Lay the braised leg on top of the Kale, slice the perfectly cooked breast, nap with the braising liquid, and you might be looking at this.

I was, and trust me, I was happy.

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