Posted in Ducks & Other Birds, From Scratch, Historical, Other, The Hungry Hen, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

Braised Guinea Hen Recipe, Information & Cooking Tips

 

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A lady told me awhile back, “Once you cook Guinea, you won’t want chicken anymore.” Now while I still haven’t cooked a Guinea, I do recognize the fact that these birds can be multi-purpose. Eggs (Seasonal Layers), Pest Control and Meat (Compare to Pheasant). While some absolutely hate them—they are noisy and can bully chickens—hey, there’s a pecking order to everything—others love them because they make great alarms. Anything comes around, they are the first to catch wind of and make noise about it. They also work in a pack, might want to tell that to the snakes before they enter the yard. And snakes are just an appetizer. These things wipe out spiders, ticks, locusts, grubs, snails, beetles, WASPS!!!! AND THAT’S just the tip of the iceberg!

So, I am still considering bringing Guineas home. And if I ever get more land and that farm I dream of, then you can bet your best Sunday bloomers, I’ll be gettin’ em sooner rather than later. Until then, here’s the 411 on the bird.

Aside from what I’ve already said, Guineas are native to West Africa. Sometime during the 15th-16th century, the bird was brought to Europe and soon after, became very popular in Colonial America. They are great foragers, so if you get some, you will want several, as they hunt in a group or pack. If you bring them in as keets—babies—then free ranging is a cinch but if you bring them in as adults, you might want to consider locking them up for three or so weeks before setting them free to range on their own.

Guineas are compared to Pheasant as far as taste goes. In fact, I’ve heard them called, “Poor Man’s Pheasant” because it costs a fraction less to raise a Guinea than it does a Pheasant. Don’t let the nickname or cost fool you, though. In many Countries, Guineas are like our Lobsters. They are considered fine-dining without a doubt!

The darker meat, is darker and more rich than, let’s say, chicken. There is less fat, so it’s healthier. They have smaller bones but produce bigger breasts (again, in comparison to chickens). Hens, on the table, may average between 2 to 3 pounds.People prefer the Hens to Males because the Hens have bigger breasts and actually, are said to taste better. The breasts also have a better texture to the meat. 

Roast them like you would a Pheasant, even stuffing them using the giblets. If you are eating Guinea breast, remember that the meat can go dry. Usually, in Colonial times, they would wrap the breast in a fat, like salt pork. One historical way of cooking them would be to place them in an oven at 400 degrees for 40 minutes—basting. Remove the pork and then roast for ten minutes allowing them to brown. Now days, one could use a thick sliced bacon, I’m sure.

Below, is a recipe our European and American Ancestors once loved….

Braised Guinea Hen

  • 1 Guinea Hen
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP of Vinegar
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper (Black)
  • 1/4 tsp. Dry Mustard
  • 1 Garlic Clove, crushed
  • Dash of Cayenne
  • 1/2 cup Chicken Broth

Directions

Cut the Guinea in quarters and sauté in heated butter until all sides are brown. Mix together remaining ingredients and pour over bird, cover and simmer for 30 minutes until almost tender. Remove cover, turn up heat and continue cooking until almost all liquid has evaporated. Wild Rice goes well with this. Serves 4.

 

American Heritage Cookbook

 

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Posted in From Scratch, Historical, Other, Rabbit Recipes, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

Historical Recipe: Rabbit Fricassee

bunnySome people would consider Rabbit to be a wilderness or country food. Maybe when I say historical, you picture some starvin’ Pioneer tryin’ to snag one. It’s not. Back in the day, Rabbit was a common dish. As common as Chicken is now days. It was used in stews, fried, roasted or in dishes I can’t even pronounce like this one… Fricassee.

Fricassee is basically a stew made up of pieces of chicken or other meat. The meat is cooked in a in gravy. Now a days, carrots, onions and I suppose, whatever else is added. When done, it’s then served with noodles or dumplings. Historically, this recipe says nothing about noodles or dumplings. It also lacks having carrots or anything making one think of Beef Stew, like I did, after I read the definition in the Dictionary.

Rabbit was often served at Monticello and anywhere fancy-shmancy Socials and fine, respectable Gatherings were held. From Pub to Plantation, it was very common to see Rabbit on the menu. Many Homesteaders now days, (people trying to raise their own food), are learning that Rabbits are a fairly easy animal to raise and butcher. Rabbit is all white meat. It’s kind of like chicken only with the texture of Pork. Still, this dish or rather it’s recipe is a classic we don’t see too much anymore so I wanted to post it for those who love the Historical bit of the Hungry Hen. Remember, these recipes were cooked when everything was from scratch—from the biscuits to the grits! And while I have not tried this one as of yet, if you do, please come back to Cluck or Crow about it!

Ingredients

  • 1 Rabbit
  • Flour
  • 1/4 cup of Butter
  • Salt & Pepper
  • 1 medium Onion, chopped fine
  • 1 1/2 cups Red Wine
  • Rind from 1/4 Lemon
  • Few sprigs of Parsley
  • 2 stalks of Celery with leaves
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 TBSP Flour
  • 1 TBSP Butter
  • Chopped Parsley
  • Cheesecloth

 

Directions

  • Cut Rabbit into serving pieces and dust with flour.
  • Heat Butter in skillet with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Add Rabbit pieces, sprinkling with Salt & Pepper.
  • Fry until nicely brown on all sides.
  • Now, stir in onion and cook for a few minutes.
  • Next, add Wine.
  • Tie Lemon Rind, Parsley sprigs, Celery and Bay Leaf inside the cheesecloth and drop it in the skillet.
  • Cover and Simmer until the meat is tender—usually takes an hour.
  • Lift Rabbit onto a hot serving Platter and discard Seasoning Bag.
  • Work flour & butter together until well blended in a bowl. Add to liquid and cook while stirring continuously until sauce bubbles.
  • Pour it over the Rabbit and sprinkle with parsley.

 

Notes: Now, while this recipe doesn’t say a thing about noodles or dumplings, feel free to pour this over them.

Recipe taken from : The American Heritage Cookbook 1964

 

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Posted in Chicken, From Scratch, Historical, Soups & Stews, The Hungry Hen, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

Historical Brunswick Stew

(From the American Heritage Cookbook)

file8321273931326Unbeknownst to most of us now days, there has been an ongoing lay-of-claim to this well known recipe. The all out feud has been between Brunswick County, North Carolina, and Brunswick County, Virginia. Unfortunately, an undisputed documented case happens to be in Virginia’s favor dating way back to 1828. The story goes, Dr. Creed Haskins, who was from Mount Donum, was a member of Virginia’s State Legislature. During this time, he was the sponsor of a political rally and he wanted something very special to serve.  Turns out, he had his heart set on a squirrel stew made  once for him by Jimmy Mathews – squirrel being the primary ingredient in Brunswick Stew at one time. Creed loved the stew so much, he couldn’t think of anything better to serve. Now while chicken has come to replace the “squirrel”, believe it or not, Brunswick stew was to Political Rallies (held by both Whigs and Democrats), Family Reunions, Cockfights, Tobacco Curings and pretty much every other Virginia Gathering during that time, what Turkey is to Christmas and Thanksgiving (now days). In honor of that, I give to you the historical Recipe—leaving the Squirrel optional unless you’re from the South and happen to have a mess of Squirrel lying around. winks

Remember, these recipes are from scratch—meaning EVERYTHING is from scratch. Back then, people couldn’t just pop by their local grocery store for a can of whatever.

Brunswick Stew

  • Two 3 pound Chickens, cut into pieces
  • 2 pounds shin bone of Beef or Veal
  • 1 Ham bone from a baked Virginia or Country Ham
  • 1 Squirrel cut into pieces (optional)
  • 3 quarts of Water
  • 1/2 cup of Sugar1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 2 tablespoon of chopped Parsley
  • 2 sliced Onion
  • 4 cups of chopped Tomatoes (without skins)
  • 2 cups of chopped celery (can use tops)
  • 2 cups of Butter Beans or Lima
  • 4 cups of Corn
  • 1/2 cup of Butter
  • 1 pod crushed red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of coarse Black Pepper
  • 4 large Potatoes, pared and boiled until tender

Directions

  1. Put chicken, beef or veal bone, ham bone, squirrel, water, sugar, bay leaf, basil and parsley in a large soup kettle. Cook over a low heat until meat is tender and falling off the bones.
  2. Remove meat from broth and cool.
  3. While meat is cooling, add onions, tomatoes, celery and beans to the broth. Cook until beans are tender.
  4. Once meat cools, remove it from the bones. Cut into small pieces and add it back to the broth.
  5. Add corn.
  6. Simmer for ten minutes and then add butter, red pepper pod and black coarse pepper. Add salt to taste.
  7. Work potatoes through a ricer or blender, then, stir into stew. Stir constantly for 15 minutes until the mixture is the consistency of mush. Serves 20.

NOTES: Now a days, people don’t stir or work their soups into “mush” so much as they did in 1828. So feel free to leave that part out.

Posted in Carnivore, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

Fryin’ Up Deer Tenderloin

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist, lol. I found that on Facebook and thought it was perfect for this article. Moving on…

Here in Virginia, it’s Hunting Season – has been for some time now. That means, someone has to cook what is killed. Since tenderloin is one of the most popular cuts of meat, I thought I’d throw up some tips and tricks.

Now, there are a million cookbooks out there  with a gazillion recipes for deer, or as some call it, Venison. They get pretty fancy, too. I even saw one with some sort of blueberry relish. I have never cooked those. We are pretty predictable here as to how we cook deer. We make burger, jerky and fry up the steak and tenderloin. We either make a gravy to go with what we fry or we eat it without. No one gets bored and no one is complaining. Not that anything is wrong with braising it with a Red Wine or making Sauces with Blueberries like in the fancier books. It’s just that here, we like to keep the blueberries for the pie and Cobblers.

Let’s talk equipment…

file8841332600634A lot of people use non-stick these days but when it comes to frying, I prefer Cast Iron. A good seasoned Cast Iron skillet makes a great crust and a terrific stage for making gravy. If anyone needs to know how to season a Cast Iron pot or Skillet, let me know and I’ll write something up. Also, a Cast Iron Skillet adds Iron to your meal or can increase it to something like 40%. That’s always good to know, right?

Oils

You can use Lard or whatever kind of Oil you like. I actually just learned by muckin’ around that Coconut Oil makes a really crispy crust.  I have never used Olive Oil but a basic oil for frying – of your choice—will do. You do not have to deep fry it. Just add enough in the pan that will cover half way up the side of the meat – UNLESS you are accustomed to using less.

Flour & Seasoning

Don’t be afraid to use seasoning. You can buy a seasoned flour or you can season your own. Pepper, Paprika, Seasoning Salt, Garlic and Onion Powders, Cayenne – these are all great seasonings for your Flour. Use them all or use some but DON’T be SHY. The only thing you have to be weary of is the Salt and the Heat. That should be customized according to your tastes. As far as all other Seasonings, add them so you can actually taste them. And remember, if you goof and don’t add enough, you can sprinkle them on again after you fry your Deer good and brown.

Marinating

I’ve never had to marinade Tenderloin, as it’s always good and tender. Sometimes people need to marinade steak, though, unless you have a Cuber and are using that. You can buy a Steak Marinade or you can mix up your own. Great things to marinade with are anything with an Acid — lemons, oranges, etc. Soy Sauce, Wine, Vinegars, Salts, Meat Tenderizing Seasonings—all good for marinades.

Gravy’s

One of the worst things a person can do is toss out the bits and pieces left over from frying. And don’t pour out all of that left over oil, either. Another shameful thing, not browning your flour. When you put the flour in the oil and bits, brown it up until it’s good and dark. That helps to flavor the gravy once you add the liquid. And the liquid can be – broth, milk, water or a mixture of milk and water or a mixture of broth, milk and water. Some people love Mater Gravy, and if that’s the case, then use a can of Diced Maters in juice with water. (Add water only to thin out if it’s too thick.) Don’t use Maters that have seeds left in them. This can give the gravy a sour taste.

If I think of anything else, I’ll update or write up another and link the two. Have any questions, just comment and I’ll answer what I can.

Posted in Back in the Day, From Scratch, Historical, The Hungry Hen, Wild Game, Guineafowl, Birds, etc.

Thomas Jefferson’s Squab in Compote

Like always, let’s get down to the story behind the recipe….

5328222The American Heritage Cookbook

More Than 500 easy-to-make Recipes

Complete and up-to-date

Together with

40 Historic Menus

This one is so rare or unwanted; I couldn’t even find a good picture of the cover anywhere— not even Amazon. I can’t imagine overlooking something that I truly treasure. And yet, there it is, the lack of proof, desirable proof, all across the internet. Go figure.

Regardless, I’m going to show it off. This book of mine may have been published in 1964, 1969 by American Heritage Publishing by the Editors of American Heritage, the magazine of History, but it happens to contain printings of Covers, Ads, Cartoons and serious Art dating back as far as the 1700’s. Not only that but at the beginning of most of the recipes or shoved in between, there are little scraps of historical delights — maybe it’s a quote by a famous name, historical fact of the time that the recipe circulated, recipe origin or cookware and item.

Whatever the treasure, I still laugh a little when I read part of the title, Complete and up-to-date. I think of that and some of the recipes inside, like Philadelphia Pepper Pot, with a story attached to it dating all the way back to 1777-78. It was a relentless winter, a quote directly from the book. It goes on to explain how low morale was at Valley Forge. Washington tried to order up a meal that would lift the spirits of his troops. So came the following creation made up of only what the Cook had at the time— tripe, peppercorns and scraps. Tripe, in case you don’t know, is the stomach lining of a cow or what they used to call, Bovine. These, however, are recipes that are complete and up to date — see why it makes me laugh— in a good way.

Mind you, I’m not snickering at the book. I love it. Inside is a winning lottery ticket of tons of great recipes and historical tidbits. I get to see firsthand what my ancestors ate and what they created during a time when, well, there wasn’t much to create with. In addition, a ton of truly great foods made with a simplicity that we may actually lack today. Some recipes have survived the times but I honestly wonder, how true are they to their roots — as true as this book claims to be— something which must be true because the ingredients are a mile long under some and why not? It’s all cooked up from scratch. No popping over to the grocery store to get broth or a Guinea Hen. And again, some of the pictures within — if only I had the guts to rip them out and frame them. Priceless. And the names of ingredients? I always have to grab a dictionary. So with that in mind, let’s start with this one . . .

Squab in Compote — according to the book, this is a French recipe that was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson. It should be located within his very own records at Monticello. I guess I should tell you what a Squab is first. I had to look it up but it happens to be Doves. Ready?


Squab in Compote


  • 6 plump squabs
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 finely chopped carrot
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 slices of diced bacon
  • ¼ pound of sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup Sherry or Madeira (By my dictionary, Madeira is an amber dessert wine from the Madeira Islands)

Instructions are as follows . . .

First, ask your butcher to truss the squabs. (That means, tie the wings and legs of a bird before cooking it.)

Second, melt butter in a casserole — one with a tight fitting lid— add squabs along with onion, carrot, and salt. Sauté until delicately browned on all sides, turning the birds over frequently. Next, add bacon, mushrooms and the Sherry or Madeira.

Cover tightly and simmer gently for 40 – 45 minutes until tender when tested with a fork. Take care not to overcook or they will fall apart.

To serve, place on large croutons (traditionally used as a “mount” for small game birds) and spoon some of the sauce around.


I’m not sure why it has compote in the title of the recipe. When I looked that up it said a dessert or stew made of fruit or a dish with a stem used for serving fruit.

And while most readers would probably snicker and sneer at the thought of eating “doves”, I know quite a few Hunters in the South that will no doubt be cooking this recipe up. Either way, it’s something to tickle your historical curiosity as I’m stashing it away under From Scratch and Back in the Day and possibly, I’ll make a new category called Wild Game & Historical.