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.

20131026-guinea-hen-fried-the-cecil-13.jpg

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.