While technically game fowl, guinea hen is by no means gamy in flavor and stands up nicely to strong herb. In this recipe from NYC’s Rotisserie Georgette, the bird is brined in a tealike infusion of rosemary, thyme and garlic before getting roasted to golden perfection.
Many people confuse guinea hen with Cornish game hen, but in truth, they couldn’t be more different. While Cornish game hens are quite small, guinea hens are the size of a medium-sized chicken. You typically find guinea hen at any specialty butcher, but be wary of the size. If your bird comes smaller than three and a half pounds, the cooking time will be shorter.
To learn more, read “Fowl Play.”
Rosemary-Brined Guinea Hen
Recipe adapted from Stephanie Abrams and Francisco Blanco, Rotisserie Georgette, New York, NY
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling, brining and resting time
Cook Time: 1 hour and 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, plus cooling, brining and resting time
20 cups water, divided
10 garlic cloves
5 rosemary sprigs, roughly chopped
3 thyme sprigs, roughly chopped
2½ tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
One 3½-to-4-pound guinea hen
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. In an 8-quart stock pot, combine 10 cups of the water with the garlic, rosemary and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer on low for 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the remaining 10 cups water, the sugar, salt and peppercorns. Let the brine completely cool.
2. Add the guinea hen to the cooled brine, making sure it’s completely submerged. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
3. Preheat the oven to 350º, then line a baking sheet with foil and place a rack on top. Remove the hen from the brine and dry completely with paper towels. Truss the legs with butcher’s twine and lay the guinea hen on top of the rack.
4. Roast until the hen has reached an internal temperature of 145º, 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and raise the temperature to 450º. Let the guinea hen rest outside, while the oven is heating.
5. Rub the butter all over the skin of the bird, then place back in the oven until golden brown and the bird has reached an internal temperature of 165º, 12 to 15 minutes.
6. Remove the guinea hen from the oven and let rest for 5 to 7 minutes before carving and serving.