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Guinea Hen with Sweet Corn Fregula

Guinea hen? It’s lovely. It tastes a little like pheasant and looks a lot like chicken, though it’s far less tough and dry than pheasant and infinitely more intriguing than chicken (though chicken legs work quite well in lieu of guinea). As Mario Batali says quite simply in The Babbo Cookbook, from which this recipe hails, “We love guinea hen legs because they’re so moist and juicy.”–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC Got Guinea? Note

Never seen guinea at your local market or butcher? That may have a lot to do with the fact that you’ve never looked for it. It’s often there, particularly in late summer and fall. If not, just ask. Often a simple request is all it takes to get your butcher to stock it or, at the very least, to special order it for you. Once it’s in, smile sweetly and ask him to bone it for you—though we’re offering no guarantees on that front. And don’t write off fregula just yet. Also sometimes known as fregola, it’s a diminutive and different kind of semolina pasta. If you can’t find it—and you don’t know that until you try, right?—Israeli couscous works splendidly in its place.

Guinea Hen with Sweet Corn Fregula Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 40 M
  • 50 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • For the guinea hen
  • 1 red onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 skin-on boneless guinea hen or chicken legs (if opting for chicken, consider using skin-on boneless thighs)
  • kosher salt
  • For the sweet corn fregula
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups fregula pasta, Israeli couscous, or other small soup-size pasta
  • 2 ears corn, shucked
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste, plus more for serving
  • 3/4 cup homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions

  • Marinate the guinea hen
  • 1. In a large, nonreactive casserole, combine the onion, thyme, black pepper, vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Place the guinea hen or chicken legs in the marinade and turn to coat on all sides. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
  • Make the sweet corn fregula
  • 2. Bring 3 quarts (12 cups) water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Set up a small ice bath. Cook the fregula, couscous, or pasta in the boiling water until somewhat tender but not cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the fregula, refresh it in the ice bath, and spread it on a tray lined with paper towels to dry.
  • 3. Meanwhile, heat the grill or broiler. Brush the ears of corn with the olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and place on the grill, turning every 2 minutes until all sides are nicely charred and the kernels are just beginning to burst. Remove the corn from the grill with tongs and, when the ears are cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off the cob with a sharp knife. Leave the grill on for the hens.
  • 4. Combine the fregula, sweet corn, and chicken stock in a large skillet or saute pan and cook over medium-high heat until the stock boils and is mostly absorbed by the grain, about 5 minutes. Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and salt and pepper and toss for 1 minute more. Remove from the heat.
  • Grill the hen
  • 5. Remove the guinea hen or chicken legs from the marinade and pat them dry. Place the legs, skin side down, on the hottest part of the fire and grill until dark brown and crisp, 6 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, turn, and cook on the meat side until just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Keep warm.
  • 6. Divide the sweet corn fregula among 4 plates. Place two guinea hen or chicken legs on each plate and serve immediately. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and some freshly cracked black pepper, if desired.
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