Watch Chef J.J. Johnson Make Fried Guinea Hen at The Cecil


[Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

The menu at The Cecil, Richard Parson's newly revamped hotel in the heart of Central Harlem, is a little difficult to follow. Described as "Afro-Asian-American" cuisine, it features things like dumplings stuffed with braised oxtail (delicious), broiled giant prawns with piri piri sauce (also great), and an entire section of fried rice done choose-your-own-adventure style with a choice of rice, meats, and sauce (not so great).

But the real killer on Chefs Alexander Smalls and J.J. Johnson's menu here is the Fried Guinea Hen ($27), which for my money, is one of the best fried chicken variants in the city.


The plate comes with a half Guinea hen that's been brined for two days in a cinnamon-scented liquid that leaves it deeply seasoned and juicy. It has a thin, crackling crust that achieves that much sought-after but rarely achieved state of cosmic oneness between crust and skin.

How does he do it? Check out the slideshow for a step-by-step look at the process.

About the author: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer of Serious Eats where he likes to explore the science of home cooking in his weekly column The Food Lab. You can follow him at @thefoodlab on Twitter, or at The Food Lab on Facebook.

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