GUINEA HEN WITH CHESTNUTS
Italian Family Dining by Edward & Eugenia Giobbi
Elinor keeps a small flock of free-range guinea hens in Katonah. They are excellent parents, taking on the care of baby chicks abandoned by the heartless chickens in her flock. One year, we ordered 20-day-old guinea hen chicks, but when they arrived, they didn't look like guinea hens at all. We put them in the coop and after 6 weeks, when they still didn't look like guinea hens, we decided to eat them. Edward killed a couple and they were good. . . whatever they were. But after that first meal, whenever Edward returned to the coop, the adult guineas would go crazy, squawking at him and running about. When he went to slaughter a couple more, the grown hens made such a terrible commotion that Edward realized they didn't want him to kill the young birds, and so he opened the coop and let them join the rest of the flock. The adults herded the chicks and took them out, and they've taken care of them ever since. As a result, the hens used in this recipe were bought at the meat market.
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 3 tablespoons chopped pancetta or Canadian bacon
• 3 tablespoons chopped prosciutto
• 1 guinea hen (2½ to 3 lbs), cut into serving pieces
• 6 garlic cloves, with skins on
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 1 tablespoon crushed dried rosemary
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• 3/4 cup dry Marsala wine
• 1 teaspoon dried marjoram
• 10 chestnuts, split and boiled for 5 minutes, with shells and skins removed
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
Add the pancetta and prosciutto.
Cover and cook for about 3 minutes, then add the guinea hen pieces, skin side down.
Add the garlic and salt and pepper to taste and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
Turn the pieces over, add the rosemary and onion, and cook until the hen is lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
Add the wine and marjoram.
Cover and bring to a boil.
Add the chestnuts and tomato paste, stirring to incorporate the paste into the wine.
Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes more.
Add some warm water or warm chicken stock if the pan looks dry.