Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Guinea Hen

Tonight, local guinea hens begin their run on the menu, until they are exhausted. I have 16 hens from Haskins Family Farm in Middletown, Virginia. Photo courtesy of JoePhoto from

Chefs love guinea hen because they're small enough (about two pounds) to roast and they don't tend to dry out as do pheasants, which is very important for restaurant service. They're also really versatile birds; anything you can do with chicken, you can do with guinea. Customers love guinea hens because they taste more chickeny than chicken. Ask my kids about guinea, if you have any doubt.

Domesticated from birds in the pheasant family that call west Africa home, the average guinea is a good looking black bird with tiny white circular spots all over, making it look silver from a distance.

They're kind of fun to have wandering around the yard—they're hell on bugs—but they have an idiot cackle that can drive you nuts after a while. That cackle makes them pretty reasonable watch animals, though. Nobody surprises you if you have guineas around. But, if you've ever tried to move a flock of them out of the way so that you could move your truck, you'd know they aren't the brightest of creatures.

Here's your daily dose of trivia: a young guinea is called a keet.

Bob and Mary Haskins sell their products including eggs, chickens, guineas, and Berkshire pork at various locations including the farmers market on the Old Town Mall in Winchester on Saturday mornings. You can reach them at

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