Grilled Marinated Guinea Hen

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Here's a delicious, easy-to-make eastern Mediterranean guinea hen dish. The trick here is to dip the hens very quickly in simmering acidulated water to firm up the skin without hardening the flesh. The slow part comes in letting the skins dry out. This Chinese-inspired method results in a truly crisp, almost crunchy skin. I like to serve the hens with the slightly wet Turkish Purlane Salad that follows and some dense-textured, lightly toasted bread to mop up the juices.


  • 2 guinea hens (2½ pounds each)
  • ¼ cup mild vinegar, such as cider or rice vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Early in the day, prepare the guinea hens. Remove the giblets from the cavities of the hens. Cut off the wings at the second joint. With kitchen shears, remove the backbone from each hen. Rinse and drain the hens. Bring 2 quarts water with the vinegar to a boil. Turn off the heat. Dip one of the hens into the hot water and let stand for 10 seconds. Remove, rinse under cold water, and wipe dry. Repeat with the second hen. Place the birds, uncovered, in the refrigerator and let dry for at least half a day.
  2. About 45 minutes before serving, set the oven rack about 9 inches from the heat source. Preheat the broiler. Carefully separate the leg thigh sections from each hen. (Leave the whole breast in one piece.) Season the hen pieces liberally with salt and pepper. Mix the honey, orange juice, ¼ cup of the olive oil, and half the lemon juice in a small bowl. Brush the mixture over the hens. Arrange on a broiling rack, skin side up, and slowly broil, basting often with the marinade, until crackling crisp and deep brown, about 12 minutes.
  3. Turn the pieces over and broil the breasts for 10 more minutes, the legs and thighs 17 to 20 minutes. Transfer the breasts to a rack and let them rest, skin side down, while finishing the rest of the birds.
  4. Cut each breast into even serving pieces and place in the center of a serving platter. Surround with the prepared salad and drizzle with a combination of verjus or the remaining lemon juice and oil. Remove the legs and thighs from the broiler, add to the platter, and serve.

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