Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Roasted Guinea Hens with Whole-Grain Mustard and Herbs (Page 404)

RECIPE #1234

  • Date: Friday, October 15, 2010 -- 6pm
  • Location: East Lansing, MI
  • Kitchen: Our House
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Karen H, Dave, Helen, Charles, and Clara
  • Recipe Rating: B+
I have a lot of recipes left in the Poultry section of The Book, so I ordered some guinea hens a few weeks ago and made this recipe. I started by boiling some heads of garlic and fingerling potatoes. Then I made a compound butter with mustard and chives. I pushed some of the butter between the skin and flesh of the birds, put some herb stems in the cavities, and then brushed the birds with melted butter. I put the hens in a hot roasting pan, along with the potatoes and some shallots. I basted the hens frequently, eventually adding the garlic and some fresh thyme. When the birds were cooked to 170 degrees, I removed them from the oven and made a pan sauce. I deglazed the pan with chicken stock, strained the liquid, and added some reserved mustard butter, salt, and pepper. I scattered chopped herbs over the birds and served them with the sauce. This dish was pretty good, but apparently rather forgettable. I asked my special gentleman about it just now and he said, "We had guinea hens?" Followed by, "Did we grill them?" And my favorite of all: "Did we have people over that night?" Ah, the middle of the semester is always a blur I suppose. Indeed we had guinea hens, we did not grill them, and yes, we had people over. With that prompting he finally remembered the dish and said, "Oh, those guinea hens. Yeah, those were tasty." They were pretty tasty. The skin was crispy and the meat was nicely cooked. My main issue with the dish was that the potatoes didn't come out very well. Something about their preparation made them rather gummy. I love potatoes and I didn't want to eat these. Indeed, without the potatoes it would have been a much more successful dish.

The recipe is here.

Only 59 recipes left to go!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays and I always jump at any chance I get to cook Thanksgiving food. A few times in my life I have had the opportunity to host Thanksgiving. My first year in graduate school my parents came to Boston for the holiday. My friend Bridget and I hosted Thanksgiving for my parents and 15 or so of our fellow graduate students in my tiny apartment. I don't remember much about the food. Mostly I remember that it was so crowded that once everyone sat down there was no longer space to open the refrigerator or the oven!

A couple years later my parents came to Boston again for the holiday, and my brother came too. I made Thanksgiving dinner for the four of us, plus Mike. The food came out really well that year, and we had a nice, quiet family holiday.

My last year in graduate school my parents came to Boston again for Thanksgiving. We ate Thanksgiving dinner at Richard and Anita's house, but Chris and I were in charge of the cooking! Ana and Michael cooked with us too, and the four of us put out a Thanksgiving dinner to be proud of! At that time Michael didn't know that she had cancer, and we certainly had no idea that it would be her last Thanksgiving. It was a beautiful holiday and I feel very lucky to have celebrated it with Michael and the rest of the Douglas/Hanau family.

That was the last year that I was in charge of Thanksgiving dinner. Since then we have celebrated with my special gentleman's family every year, and they have their own family traditions. I usually get assigned a few things to make (last year I was in charge of hors d'oeurvres and stuffings), but I am never in charge of, say, the turkey. It makes for a low-stress holiday, which is nice, but I have grown to miss cooking Thanksgiving dinner. So this year my special gentleman and I hosted a pre-Thanksgiving at our house on Saturday. It was a chance to cook one of the turkeys left in The Book (and a bunch of other book recipes), and to celebrate a wonderful holiday with some of our new East Lansing friends!

We had 15 people for dinner. Our dining room fits 10 or 12, but 15 would be a stretch. So we took the furniture out of the living room and set up some tables in there:

Near the dining tables we also set up some tables to put the food on:

We had quite a Thanksgiving spread. People kept offering to bring things, which was fantastic. In the end, I felt like I didn't do much at all! For hors d'oeuvres I made some shrimp balls and some corn madeleines topped with caviar. For the dinner spread my special gentleman and I made a grilled turkey, cranberry gravy, beef wellington, applesauce, cranberry-cherry sauce, and jello salad (!). Helen and Charles brought green beans. Kendra and Jubin brought mashed potatoes and stuffed pumpkin. Corbett and Mary brought salad, and Ben and Marcie brought wine. It was a feast! Here's one table of food:

And another table of food:

I forgot to take a picture of the dessert spread, which was beautiful! I made some cookies and a chocolate prune pave with candied orange zest and Armagnac creme anglaise. Helen and Charles brought an apple spice cake. And Bob and Linda brought an apple pie (and a bottle of Goldschlager!).

The food was all delicious, and we were in great company. When we moved here I didn't really know anyone, and I was nervous about starting over in a new place, trying to meet people. Now I feel tremendously thankful for the friends we have made. My one regret about the dinner was that I forgot (again!) to take a picture of everyone around the table. It was great to host a Thanksgiving meal in our new house for the first time. And tomorrow after I teach we will head to Ohio for another wonderful Thanksgiving meal with my special gentleman's extended family on Thursday! I love the holiday season!


Unknown said...

Nice gourmet project, thanks for sharing this great post.

Gourmet Free

Chris said...

Needless to say you have a standing invitation to come back to MA and be in charge of Thanksgiving dinner here ... ;-)

Teena said...

Haha... thanks Chris! That would be fun!!