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GUINEA FOWLVarious combinations of meat and fruit turn up in Italian cooking. For the most part, the convention arose out of necessary creativity, the sweetness of the fruit providing a foil for the richness of the meats. Along the way, however, some extraordinary pairings were hit upon, such as guinea fowl and cherries, which have a meaty texture in their own right and tint the meat an alluring deep purple.
This is a useful one-pot meal to have in your repertoire: It is equally suited to an everyday family dinner and a special occasion.

  • Yield: 4 Servings


  • 2 guinea hens, about 2½ pounds each, rinsed and
  • patted dry with a paper towel
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves, preferably fresh
  • 3 sage sprigs
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed with the side of a chef’s
  • knife and peeled, plus 1 head of garlic, halved
  • horizontally
  • ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon canola oil or other neutral
  • oil
  • 3 large celery stalks, trimmed and cut into 3-inch
  • segments
  • 1 large Spanish onion, cut into 6 wedges
  • 3 large carrots, cut into 3 pieces each
  • 1½ cups dry white wine
  • ½ cup dry Marsala
  • 1 cup Dark Chicken Stock
  • 1 pint Bing cherries, halved and pitted
How to Make It
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Season the guinea hens inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity of each hen with 1 rosemary sprig, 1 bay leaf, 1 sage sprig, and 2 smashed garlic cloves. Use a piece of butcher’s twine to truss each bird: Start by crossing the legs and tying them together with a double knot. Tuck the wings under themselves and wrap the twine around each bird to secure it, tying it with another double knot and snipping away the excess string.
  3. Pour ¼ cup of the oil into a roasting pan large enough to hold the hens comfortably, set it over two burners, and heat over medium heat. Add the hens, breast side down, and brown for 5 to 6 minutes, then turn over and brown for another 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer the hens to a large plate or platter.
  4. Add the celery, onions, carrots, the halved head of garlic, and the remaining rosemary and sage sprigs. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables are softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Pour in the wine, bring to a simmer, and cook, stirring, until slightly reduced, about 2 minutes. Return the hens to the pan, breast side up, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil, and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Roast the hens, basting periodically with the pan drippings, until cooked through, about 70 minutes; an instant-read thermometer inserted between the breast and the leg will read 160°F. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and transfer the hens to a large plate. Loosely cover the hens with aluminum foil and set aside to rest.
  6. Meanwhile, set the roasting pan over two burners and turn the heat on to medium. Pour the Marsala into the roasting pan and stir with a wooden spoon to loosen any flavorful bits cooked onto the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook until the Marsala has almost completely evaporated, about 6 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl, pressing down on the solids with a wooden spoon or a ladle to extract as much flavorful liquid as possible. Discard the solids, return the sauce to the pan, and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add half of the cherries, crushing them with a wooden spoon to release their juices, then season with salt and pepper, lower the heat, and cook for 5 minutes to infuse the sauce with the cherries’ flavor. Strain the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl or serving vessel and stir in the remaining cherries.
  7. Transfer the hens to a cutting board and carve them, reserving their juices. Pour the reserved juices into the sauce, stirring to incorporate. Divide the hens among 4 plates and drizzle with the sauce, or pass it alongside.

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