This dish can be made with regular chicken and it will be delicious, but guinea hen has a different, light, gamy kind of flavor. A guinea hen is a noisy chicken that is gray in plumage, dotted with white spots. In Italy it is a special treat because of its extra flavor and is used in holiday cooking. It has the texture of a -free–range chicken.
- Two 3-pound guinea hens if possible, or chickens
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- All-purpose flour, for dredging
- 7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
- 1 cup white wine
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Cut each guinea hen into four pieces, separating the breasts and -leg–thigh portions. Season with salt. Lightly dredge each piece in flour. Heat a large skillet over -medium–high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the hen pieces in batches, and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the meat to a roasting pan and arrange in one layer.
Pour off the oil from the skillet and add the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil over -medium–high heat. Add the garlic. Once the garlic is sizzling, add the sliced lemon, and brown the slices on both sides. Add the crushed -red–pepper flakes. Pour in the wine and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, then pour over the hens in the roasting pan.
Roast the meat, uncovered, for 30 minutes on the middle rack of the oven. Flip each piece and roast for another 30 minutes. Flip once more, and move the pan to the bottom of the oven to reduce and concentrate the sauce; roast for about 10 minutes more. If the sauce is still too thin, remove the meat and reduce the sauce directly on the stovetop for a minute.
Serve the hens with sauce.