Guinea Hen for Dinner
Disclaimer: This post contains words, information and pictures on killing and eating a live animal. I make no excuses nor do I feel guilty about my current omnivore diet. I have, in the past, been a vegetarian and see a lot of value in it, but my current lifestyle and place in life is embracing meat – espeically meat that I raise or harvest myself. I never buy meat at the grocery store, and rarely eat meat that I don’t know where or how is was raised. I believe happy animals make happy meat and sustain happy people. I eat some factory farm meats on occasion and it only takes my body about 30 minutes to let me know it is the worst thing I could put in my body. I feel sluggish, bogged down, half sick and pretty lousy for at least a few hours afterwards. This is proof enough for me to stay away from the mass-produced, factory farmlots, not to mention all of the negative environmental and economic impact it has on the earth and its inhabitants. Anyway, that’s for another post some day. Now, let’s get back to the Guinea Hen I had for dinner the other night.
Last summer a friend (Everett, co-writer and founder of this site) was moving and gave me some guinea hens. I have a lot of experience raising chickens and had never lent my hand to keeping guineas, but I had always heard they were excellent tick eaters so I thought I would give them a try. I always knew guineas were hard to domesticate, but was hopeful I could get them to at least lay their eggs in one area for collecting. It only took me 3-4 days to realize I was being way to optimistic! From the start, they were fairly wild and driven hard by nature and instinct (roosting in trees, avoiding dogs, cats, etc.), but they pretty much kept to the property and did a good job at eating a lot of bugs. For the first few months I didn’t feed them at all. I knew they were getting enough food on their own and I’ve always had a problem keeping and/or feeding animals that didn’t give my homestead some kind of real return (like eggs).
The week before Thanksgiving I finally broke down and bought the guineas some feed. I knew the snow would start flying soon and that the summer/fall prolifera of bugs was about to cease. Again, I didn’t quite like the idea of buying semi-wild animals food, but I am not so heartless as to see the fowl go hungry, especially since I am part of the problem of continuing the evolutioin of trying to fully domesticate guineas like we do chickens.
Anyway, after feeding the guineas for several months I decided it was time to thin the flock a little and I was especially motivated because I had always heard that guineas were good eatin’. So, I thought on a plan for a few days – mostly how to catch one, because they are so wild I can’t get within arms reach of them – and finally decided I would have to use my shotgun, like one would for a wild turkey. One beautiful, sunny day, while my daughter napped, I got the old trusty shotgun out, loaded it with a turkey shot and took out one of the guineas. If you don’t know anything about turkey hunting (I barely do) you shoot them in the head as not to damage the precious meat. It was a clean shot and it was over instantly; the bird didn’t suffer at all. I grabbed the bird and immediately started to skin and gut it. I was amazed how quickly and easily the skin peeled off. It took little effort; literally about 4-5 minutes to deskin the guinea and I was ready to gut it. It took me another 5-10 minutes to remove the innards and the head/legs and I was taking it to the outside facuet to wash it off. Fifteen minutes after the gunshot it was chilling in my fridge waiting until I could find a recipe for the night’s dinner.
The guinea hen turned out pretty good even though I am a terrible cook. I imagine it would have turned out a lot better if I had more experience cooking whole chickens and was better using herbs and spices. Nevertheless, my two daughters and I enjoyed it for dinner along with some potatoes and greens. We even had a few pieces left over that I put in a soup the following day.