ROASTED GUINEA HEN, MOREL AND GIBLET–CRUSTED WHITE ASPARAGUS, VIN JAUNE JUS
AT THE FARM in Saint-Pierre de Chandieu, near Lyon, I literally grew up on guinea hen, and I remember that if we didn’t clip their wings, at sunset they would climb into the trees for the night! It was a real frustration to keep them domesticated and away from the foxes! This wild bird’s size is a cross between a pheasant and a chicken; it doesn’t taste gamy but has a nuttier flavor than chicken. Cooked on the rotisserie, the skin crisps up, the perfect mirror for the tender leg meat wrapped in fried kataifi.
To clean the morels, submerge them in a bowl of cold water, leave for 2 minutes, strain from the top, and repeat until the water that settles at the bottom is clear. Strain and pat dry with a towel. Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat and add the shallot. Cook, stirring, until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add the morels, sprinkle with the salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the vin jaune and simmer with the morels for 10 minutes. Scoop out the morels and set aside. Continue simmering until reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Add the chicken stock and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Add the chicken jus and simmer until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if necessary. Strain the sauce into a bowl set over ice; stir until chilled and reserve. Set aside 12 morels for garnish and finely chop the rest for the asparagus crust. Reserve, chilled.
For the Morel and Giblet–Crusted White Asparagus
In a small sauté pan, lightly brown the butter over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the liver, gizzard, and heart and sauté for 1 minute. Add the vin jaune and simmer until almost dry. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the chopped morels and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper and fold in the parsley. Remove from the heat and scrape the mixture onto a sheet of parchment paper. Top with another sheet of parchment and spread into a sheet about 8 inches long and a width that is two-thirds the length of an asparagus stalk. Refrigerate, keeping flat, until hardened.
Pour 1 gallon of water into a large pot, season with salt, and add the sugar; bring to a boil. Set a bowl of ice water on the side. Prepare each asparagus by laying it flat on a cutting board and lightly peeling from just below the tips to the end, rolling it clockwise as you work. Trim and discard the bottom fibrous 1 inch. Use butcher’s twine to secure the stalks into a bunch. Boil for 9 minutes, or until easily pierced with a cake tester. Chill in the ice water, strain onto paper towels, and cut away the twine. Cut three ½-inch-thick discs from the end of each asparagus and set aside for finishing. Transfer the asparagus stalks to a foil-lined baking dish and season them with salt and pepper. Cut the chilled sheet of crust widthwise into 8 rectangles, peel off the paper, and press each one onto the bottom two-thirds of each stalk. Reserve, chilled.
For the Guinea Hen
Preheat a rotisserie to high and preheat the oven to 200°F. (Alternately, preheat the oven to 400°F.) Fill one-third of a medium saucepan with canola oil and heat to 350°F.
Use a paring knife to remove the wish-bones from the guinea hens. Season the inside and outside of the hens with salt and pepper and stuff them with the bay leaves, thyme, and garlic. If desired, truss the hens. Rub the butter on their skin to coat.
Mount the hens to the rotisserie spit according to the manufacturer’s directions. (If cooking in the oven, transfer to a roasting pan with a rack.) Start by roasting on high until the skin is browned. Baste the skin often with the melted butter using the herb bouquet. Once browned, reduce the rotisserie heat to medium (or reduce the oven temperature to 300°F). Remove from the rotisserie or oven when the temperature of the center of the breasts reaches 125°F. Heat the oven to 200°F, whether using the rotisserie or the oven.
Transfer the birds to a cutting board and carve off the legs. While preparing the legs, transfer the breast cages to a roasting pan with a rack, cover with foil, and transfer to the oven until cooked through. Debone the legs and cut each into 2 equal-size squares, leaving the skin attached. Wrap each square in a layer of kataifi dough. Fry the squares until golden brown, about 1½ minutes. Strain onto a paper towel–lined tray and sprinkle with salt; keep warm.
Carve the breasts from the breast cage and, if desired, trim the sides into straight lines. Sprinkle with fleur de sel.
Preheat the broiler. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the vin jaune jus to a simmer.
Broil the morel and giblet–crusted white asparagus until the crust is crispy and the asparagus is heated through.
Melt the butter in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Transfer the reserved sautéed morels and sliced asparagus discs to the pan and toss to heat through. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
For each serving, set a hen breast on one side of a warm plate and a crusted white asparagus on the other side. Arrange 2 crispy leg pieces, alternating with roasted morels standing on top of white asparagus discs in the center. Spoon jus onto the plate and top the morels with parsley chips.