My cooking practices have been confused a bit over the past month, since we’ve been experimenting with different resources for meat & poultry. Rick and I are trying to buy locally raised, organic meat from the Farmer’s Market vendors, which means that 1) I only get to buy meat on Saturday, 2) some of it is frozen, which means planning 24 hours in advance for thawing, and 3) I don’t know what will be available until Saturday morning (actually, I can probably look this up online in advance, but I haven’t been that organized yet).
Our first experiment was with Fredericksburg Grass-Fed Beef, from which I purchased 1 lb of ground beef for JR’s weekly meatballs, and 1 lb of stew meat. Both were frozen, which meant that I moved them to the refrigerator the morning before cooking them (Monday morning if I wanted to cook them Tuesday night). This worked perfectly, and really wasn’t as much of a hassle as I imagined. And the quality and taste was most definitely an improvement over the store-bought variety.
My recent purchase was slightly more adventurous: I walked away with a small guinea hen from Sebastian Bonneau’s Countryside Farm. I had absolutely no plans to buy a guinea hen when I arrived that morning, but after getting some eggs from Countryside (chicken eggs rather than duck – but they have both), I was intrigued by the guinea offering. I waffled a little, said ‘I’ll think about it and look for a recipe this week,’ to which Sebastian replied: ‘here’s a recipe right here’ and handed me a slip of paper titled ‘Pintade with Whole Wheat Bigoli.’ Ahh, how convenient.
I still hadn’t processed how exactly I was going to cook this bird, or fit it into the weekly schedule, but I’m really glad I went for it. I mean, I’ve never cooked guinea hen before, and I didn’t know the definition of ‘pintade’ or ‘bigoli’. But that’s part of the fun of it. I imagine my meat-buying skills will become more acute as I experiment with different vendors at the Farmer’s Market.
The recipe translates roughly to ‘shredded guinea with butternut squash & fennel, over whole wheat pasta.’ I’m really glad I picked up the recipe, because I was initially thinking that I would roast the guinea like a chicken, but the guinea is quite small and wouldn’t have worked as well that way. So shredding the meat and combining it with some substantial vegetables was a smart move.
Pintade (Guinea Hen) with Whole Wheat Fettucine
(adapted from Chef Todd Duplechan of Trio / Four Seasons Hotel)
2 guinea hen legs, bone in, skin on
2 qt. pintade stock (see below)
1 cup diced butternut squash
1/2 cup sliced shallots
1 bulb fennel, diced
1/2 package whole wheat fettucine
1/4 cup chopped parsley, thyme & mint
salt & pepper
Roasted bones of one pintade (head, neck, wings, and back)
1 cup white wine
6 stems fennel (fronds removed)
1 apple, cored & quartered
salt & pepper
Place all ingredients in a stock pot. Simmer, skimming fat and froth that rises to the top for 4 hours. Strain. Cool. Set aside for recipe below.
1. Saute fennel & shallot in oil until shallots are translucent. Add legs and cover with stock. Simmer on stovetop for 1 1/2 hours. Take out legs and cool to room temperature. Continue cooking stock until it reduces by half. Add squash and simmer for 12 min.
2. While the squash is simmering, boil water for pasta and cook according to the instructions, until al dente.
3. Remove the pintade meat from the bone and shred with two forks. Return meat to the butternut squash stew and season with salt, pepper & herbs.
4. To serve, place 1 serving of pasta in each bowl. Top with the butternut squash pintade stew, sprinkle with a few more herbs and parmesan reggiano.