Roasting a Guinea Hen By The Fire

I wanted to roast a chicken the way someone might’ve long before the modern cabin came along, with it modern appliances.

I already had a good start: a great from Dave Jordan. I was able to score a few fowl off of him, two of a smaller breed called a cornish hen and one big chicken, for our trip to the cabin. I’d be salt-baking the cornish hens under hot ashes, and saving the big guy for roasting indoors.

The little stove in our cabin’s main room is a wood-burning Osburn, better for wear. As you saw with breakfast, the thing is great for cooking not only potatoes and a pan of eggs that easily fit in the chamber, but for roasting as well — how do you think they did it in the old days, anyhow? It probably looked a lot like this. Lots of roasting is done above the flame, with a rotating spit spliced through the center of the animal. But what I’m looking for with the chicken is not to cook it above the flame, but slowly next to it. After a little oven hack, I was able to string the chicken from a fire-poker resting above the oven’s door, hinged open. I rubbed the chicken inside and out with salt and spices (garlic, cumin, coriander, fennel, smoked paprika (rosemary, marjoram, etc. ) that I ground a few minutes prior in a molcajete, a great kitchen tool we love here in the Southwest.

A little spin, and a lot of patient waiting — collecting the juices in a pan below and every so often spooning it back over, led to an evenly roasted, delicious chicken.

Alex Leiphart