Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Christmas Carnivory part 2: Guinea hen with red wine, leeks, and mushrooms

Originally posted on 26 December 2007.

For Christmas dinner, we always eschew the traditional ham (my brother and I do not eat mammal, and have not for many years) in favor of also-traditional fowl. Sometimes goose or duck (we also always go feed the ducks at the Millrace as an after-presents family activity, so rarely bring ourselves to feast on duck in the evening); last year's dinner was pheasant. This year we had guinea hen. Given my commitment to ethical eating, we make sure to purchase free-range grass-finished organic bird from trusted local suppliers; ours is a good town for finding such a product. The birds come whole, and the giblets should be saved in the freezer for later soup making.

Guinea hen can be an awfully dry bird, and is traditionally cooked with pork fat. Another popular meat tenderizer is to stew in red wine, which is what we did. Dried morel mushrooms are reconstituted in warm water (enough to cover), and leeks are cleaned, chopped, and cooked in butter. The guinea hen is quartered and browned in the butter on both sides. (Use a deep large saucepan with a bottom that can accommodate frying. You still may need to do the hen in batches, depending on how many people you are serving.) Then fit all the quarters into the pan, and add two to three bottles of inexpensive red cooking wine and the mushrooms with their mushroom-flavored reconstituting water (the mushrooms should be coarsely chopped). Also add yellow potato, washed and chopped into regular-sized pieces but not peeled.

Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for some time.

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