Rise of the Guinea Hen

At a recent charity dinner, I did a culinary double take when I dipped into Chef Nancy Silverton’s guinea hen crostone (translation: ragu with black truffle and pancetta liver sauce on a large toast), a dish frequently found on the menu of Silverton’s restaurant Osteria Mozza.

The bird, which is native to—surprise!—the West African country of Guinea, first crossed my radar when I lived in France, where it’s often seen on the table during Sunday dinner. But I hadn’t encountered much of it stateside until recently. The slightly gamy, flavorful fowl is gaining in popularity, and has been popping up on menus from Osteria Mozza in LA to NYC newcomer Rouge Tomate. Chowhounds have also been weighing in on their guinea hen experiences at Bar Bouloud and the Copper Beech Inn.

One of the primary farms raising guinea fowl is California’s Grimaud Farms, where adventurous home cooks can purchase the bird online (though it’s a bit steep: $26 for nearly 3 pounds, yet the yield is only about 50 percent).

The high price might make it seem worthwhile to raise your own. In fact, it seems that someone in Brooklyn may have already come up with that idea. But the birds’ obnoxious racket would probably help make a $26 hen (or a road trip to a restaurant serving it) a more attractive option.

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