A Better Bird
September 16, 2014
Full disclosure: this was a gift. I ordered some steaks from DeBragga, and when I opened the box I found this guinea as well.
It didn't look like much – a scrawny bird, feet still on, very long wings, its deep red flesh glowing through the skin. I threw it into the refrigerator thinking, "I'll deal with you later."
Truth be told, I've never cooked a guinea hen before. So I went onto the Debragga website, where I read this:
"The meat of the guinea fowl is similar to chicken but higher in protein, lower in fat and intensely flavorful. These guinea hens – more moist and generous than regular chicken! – are raised on Mauer Farms in Bloomville, New York, in the heart of Delaware County. As part of the Catskill Watershed Management project, these birds are raised in a way that protects them as well as the land they live on. These fowl are fed a custom blend of grains and corn supplemented with seasonal greens. Antibiotic- and hormone-free, they are humanely raised and handled at every step, finishing with a unique air chill process that preserves them to cook up crispy skinned and juicy every time."
Okay, I thought, I'll cook it like chicken. And then, looking at the bird, thought I ought to do a little bit more. So I cut off the feet (saving them for soup), washed the bird inside and out, dried it well and let it sit in the refrigerator for a few hours. Then I made a blend of mustard and butter, gingerly pried up the skin and rubbed that onto the flesh. I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. I put an onion into the bird's cavity, some carrots and onions into the pan, spread some butter on the bird, showered it with salt and put the pan into the oven for about 50 minutes, occasionally basting the bird.
Then I made a quick pan gravy: I added a cup of chicken stock to the juices in the bottom of the pan and boiled it down until it had thickened into a suace.
It was, hands down, the most delicious bird I've ever cooked. Moist. Flavorful. Completely wonderful.
Would I spend $30 for one of these birds again? To be honest, it seems like an extravagance if it's just for us. But for a company dinner? Absolutely! These are truly terrific birds.
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