Hello everyone. I've missed you. It's hard to believe how quickly January flew by in a flash and 2012 is well underway. I've been taking a holiday of sorts the last month or so. Enjoying some time with family and friends before jumping feet first into the season. I've been traveling a bit too, a few days in Alsace, a quick trip to Paris, and a week in Germany for a little wine tasting which I'll be sharing in the next few weeks.
Winter is a cozy time here in Beaune and is perfect for curling up with a favorite cookbook or two for some inspiration for upcoming menus. In the kitchen, I'm cooking rustic, peasant-style dishes, using liberal amounts of butter, red wine and spices. The markets are fairly quiet and many of our favorite producers are tucked in for the winter months, but we are still enjoying our favorite ritual - the market lunch. On this week's menu is a roasted guinea hen (or Pintade in French) from Madame Simard with roasted turnips, jerusalem artichokes, purple potatoes, lemon, and a salad of winter chicories from Yan's organic farm in Bresse. Pintade also makes for a lovely springtime dish.
At the markets in France, there is a large selection of fowl in general and pintade has become our new favorite. Along with Madame Simard's homemade terrines, you'll find duck, poulet, poularde, and pigeon as well as game birds such as pheasants, quail, and pintade in her market case. Guinea hen is a lovely alternative to a roasted chicken. However, if it is cooked whole, it can sometimes be a little tough. I used the recipe from The Zuni Cafe Cookbook and Judy suggested you handle the breasts and legs separately, and roast them hot and fast for the best results. This cookbook is a favorite here at The Cook's Atelier and we like her take on classic techniques and her philosophy on the art of cooking real food.
Petit Luc is getting bigger every day. He is 7 months now and is getting more adorable by the minute. Two tiny teeth and the sweetest giggle you can imagine. Life is perfect. It just might be possible that Beaune really is a little piece of heaven right here on earth. We are working on some exciting projects for the year and we will be sharing them soon. If you'd care to join in on the fun, please visit us here. We'd love to have you.
Roasted Guinea Hen with Bay Leaves and Cloves
Adapted from Judy Rodgers, The Zuni Café Cookbook
One 3 1/4 to 3 1/2 pound guinea hen
About 3/4 cup guinea hen stock or chicken stock
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 bay leaves
2 whole cloves
1/2 cup dry white wine
Cutting up and seasoning the guinea hen (for the best flavor, do this step 12 to 24 hours in advance)
Make a long incision in the skin between each leg and the breast meat, then tug the leg away from the carcass. Fold it all the way back to pop the ball joint, then fold even farther and use the tip of your knife to carve out the lentil-shaped muscle known “pope’s nose.” Then tug at the leg as you cut through the remaining muscle and skin.
To extricate the meaty wings, tug the wing straight out and make a circular cut around the shoulder joint. Twist the wing, straining that joint, to reveal the stubborn connective tissue. Sever with the tip of your knife. Continue to twist and fold the wing back, cutting through remaining muscle, sinew, and skin.
To remove the breast meat, first make a deep clean cut with the knife flat against each side of the sternum. Next, tugging the breast away from the collarbone, use the tip of your knife to make a shallow cut along each arc of collarbone (the wishbone). Pulling the breast away from the sternum, make a series of little cuts flat against the sternum and under the wishbone to progressively free the breast as you go. Repeat with the other breast.
Season the 6 pieces of guinea hen evenly all over with salt. Fold the wing tips back behind the shoulders to secure them in twisted triangles. Cover loosely and refrigerate.
If desired, make the carcass and scraps into Guinea Hen Stock. Reduce about 3/4 cup of it, or of the chicken stock, to about 1/3 to 1/2 cup.
Roasting the guinea hen and making the sauce:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Pat the pieces of guinea hen dry. Warm the olive oil in an ovenproof 12-inch skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle boldly on contact, arrange the pieces of meat skin side down in a single layer. Reduce the heat only if the oil threatens to smoke. Leave to set a golden crust, about 5 minutes; turn off the heat. Turn over the legs and wing pieces. Remove the breasts and set aside. Pour off all but a film of fat, then tuck the bay leaves and cloves under the legs. Set the pan in the lower half of your oven and roast for about 15 minutes. Add the breast pieces, skin side up, and roast until just cooked through, another 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven and pour off the few drops of fat. Add the white wine and set over medium heat. Swirl the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape the sides. When the wine has boiled hard for about 5 seconds, add the reduced stock and continue swirling the pan and stirring the sauce. Taste every few seconds, and pull from the heat when the sauce has a little body and concentrated flavor. Bear in mind that the big pan will continue cooking and reducing the little sauce until it is served, so be prepared to work quickly. If the sauce does get too strong or thick, add a few drops of water to correct.
Distribute the meat among the plates and spoon the sauce over. (Don’t pour directly from the pan – the hot lip of the pan will boil the sauce along the way, further reducing it and producing splatters that will land on the plates.)