When Mike and I set out for the Greenmarket in Union Square on Saturday morning, my original plan for dinner was to pick up a nice fat chicken to use in a Provencal-style stew with lots of garlic and herbs, but when we saw the beautiful guinea hens that Violet Hill Farm was offering, we had to get one.
I decided on a whim to do a google search for guinea hen preparations when we got home from the market, and turned up this recipe for "Guinea Hen with Red Wine: Faraona al Vino Rosso" from Mario Batali. We had everything we needed for it with the exception of grappa, but we swapped in an equal amount of Armagnac instead. (Ah, the joys of having a well-stocked bar…)
I made a few other minor adjustments to the recipe: I cooked the crumbled sausage first (not sweet sausage as indicated in the recipe, but Flying Pigs Farm‘s excellent “Mike’s Grandmother’s Hot Italian”), drained most of the fat, then added a bit of tomato paste and allowed it all to caramelize before adding the sausage to the stew. I also added a bit of marjoram and the soaking liquid from the dried mushrooms.
The resulting stew was rich and deeply flavorful, the flavors of the wine, mushrooms and sausage all definitely present, but none overpowering. The meat was some of the most tender and juicy poultry I have ever tasted. I was satisfied with one bowl, but I wish I had had room for another (Mike did). I bet it’s going to be fantastic reheated for lunch.