November 19, 2012

Brine-Free Bird

Thanksgiving Guinea Hen

One of my favorite ways to get around a salty brined Thanksgiving turkey is to skip the turkey all together and get a guinea hen instead.

Whether you’re hosting this year’s holiday feast or attending someone else’s buffet table, it’s nice to let all the guests get their fill of a high-sodium juicy bird while you can pig out on your own fun-sized, low-sodium poultry.

And to make sure that your meat stays just as moist and succulent as everyone else’s, I like to use three tricks. The first is a can of soda or beer. The second is a strongly spiced, no-salt rub. And the third is a bowl of homemade marinade.

By sticking a half-emptied can of beer (or soda or even beans) up the guinea hen’s behind, you will trap steam inside that bird as it cooks, meaning the meat will never have a chance to become dry. Plus, by standing in an upright position, the fat continually drips down from the bird versus pooling around the meat. Meaning the skin will stay nice and crispy as well.

As for the rub, you can use any traditional poultry spices (i.e. no-salt garlic powder, ground black pepper, and herbs). Or you can add extra oomph by mixing massaging unconventional flavors on your bird (i.e. curry powder, cinnamon, and even mustard powder). Make sure to rub the rub everywhere, even in between the skin and the meat. And to get it coated a few hours before you cook it, giving the spices enough time to really stick to the skin.

Finally, for the marinade, you can simply combine olive oil with more herbs. Or you can make a Thanksgiving flavored BBQ sauce with some apricot jam and a little molasses. Whisk to combine and slather it on your bird just at the end of cooking to give it a slick sheen as well as an extra burst of moisture and flavor.

And that’s how you can make your own show-stopping guinea hen or even a whole crowd-pleasing roasted Turkey. Without the salt.

For more tips on how to make a salt-free, succulent turkey, check out my other tricks on the Jummy Choo blog and on Huffington Post.

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