Grilled Guinea Hen with Fregola

August 19, 2010

‘Stolen with permission’ from Pó, New York’s owner Steven Crane


‘Stolen with permission’ from Pó, New York’s owner Steven Crane, this recipe is extremely easy to make, and really unique. The recipe can be adapted in many ways to incorporate seasonal vegetables; corn is great now, but you could use asparagus and almonds in spring, or sweet potatoes in the fall.

Pó has served fresh, simply prepared seasonal fare in a cozy and inviting neighborhood setting, since 1993, when Steve and his famous friend Mario Batali, found an ideal location in the heart of the historical West Village for their joint venture. Aware of the abundance of Italian specialty shops and local food purveyors in the neighborhood, along with discovering that the restaurant space was once home to Cafe Cino, New York’s first Off-Off Broadway Theater, circa 1958,(earning the building a landmark status), the recipe for success was established.

The menu at Pó has been described as a ‘rich and rewarding affair’ with all the traditional Italian elements, creatively combined with a modern New York approach. Dishes like Fresh Marinated Anchovies, with dried tomato tabbouleh, Pappardelle, with sweet corn & chorizo, Grilled Salmon, with a balsamic glaze and squash caponata and Affogato Coffee Gelato; chilled cappuccino and chocolate caramel sauce combined with coffee gelato from Il Laboratorio del Gelato, are sure to delight!

A unique touch at the restaurant is that instead of using regular takeout containers, which Steve sees as impersonal and wasteful, neighborhood folks can bring their own dishes and have the restaurant fill them up and wrap them to go. If you are in the West Village a visit to Pó should be on your menu!

Fregola pasta, which is very similar to couscous, cooks like couscous or rice, absorbing most of the cooking liquid. It is lightly toasted beads of semolina pasta which have been dried in the sun for 40 days, and is thought to originate from the Italian island of Sardinia. It has many culinary applications and can be prepared as a side dish, in soups, risottos and salads like tabbouleh, or as a stuffing for poultry - it can even be served as a hot cereal for breakfast. It has a slightly nutty flavor, and Israeli couscous could be replacement if you can't find it. (Please note: you can find fregola at Italian specialty stores or on line).

About the chef: Steven Crane began his culinary career in high school working as a lunch cook at the Whistle Stop in Seaside Heights, New Jersey. He moved to San Francisco in 1980, where his passion for Italian food and wine flourished as he worked at several prestigious San Francisco restaurants, including the Cliff House and Jackson Fillmore Trattoria, before enrolling at Tante Marie's Cooking School.

In 1993 Crane relocated back to New York, to partner with long time friend and famed chef, Mario Batali at Pó. 18 years later, Crane has taken full ownership of the restaurant, where he and Executive Chef Lee McGrath continue to execute the same high standard of local Italian eats.

31 Cornelia Street
New York, NY 10014
212 645 2189

Grilled Guinea Hen with Fregola is served as an entrée at Pó for $20 or Fregola is served alone as a vegetarian appetizer for $8.

This recipe makes 4 restaurant servings.

Grilled Guinea Hen Ingredients:
8 Guinea hen legs boned, skin on
8 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 good pinches of dried thyme
Kosher salt for seasoning

Fregola Ingredients:
1lb fregola or Israeli couscous
1 cup sweet corn kernels
1 cup sliced scallions
3 tablespoons Parmigiano or Grana Padano cheese
2 cups hot vegetable or chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
Salt for seasoning

Steal This Recipe® Step by Step Instructions for the Grilled Guinea Hen:
Place the legs in a plastic zip-lock bag and marinate in 8 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and a couple of good pinches of dried thyme for 8 to 24 hours.
Heat the grill (or grill pan if cooking on stove top) to medium heat.
Remove the legs from the marinade and pat dry with paper towels.
Season the legs on both sides with kosher salt.
Grill or pan fry skin side down for approximately 10 minutes until slightly charred.
Turn over and grill for 5 more minutes. 
Remove from the heat and place on top of the Fregola to serve.

Steal This Recipe® Step by Step Instructions for the Fregola:
Boil the fregola in well salted water for 3 to 4 minutes, until al dente.
Drain and cool in ice water (place a medium sized bowl in a larger bowl containing iced water and cool the fregola by putting it in the medium bowl). Set aside.
In a sauté pan on medium to high heat cook the corn, scallions and stock in 1 tablespoon of butter for about 3 minutes.
Take off the heat add the remaining butter and the cheese - it should have a gooey consistency like mac and cheese.

The following nutritional analysis is based on an approx. 6 oz. serving at home (prepared with chicken stock).

Nutrient NameNutrient ValueUnitDaily Value %
Calories 290     
Calories from Fat 120     
Total Fat 14  g   22% 
Saturated Fat 4  g   20% 
Trans Fat 0  g    
Cholesterol 85  mg   28% 
Sodium 170  mg   7% 
Carbohydrates 11  g   4% 
Dietary Fiber < 1  g   3% 
Sugars < 1  g    
Protein 28  g    
Vitamin A   IU   2% 
Vitamin C   mg   2% 
Calcium   mg   4% 
Iron   mg   15% 

Nutritional information provided by