Friday, October 21, 2011

Burgundian Style Guinea Fowl

I am becoming rather fond of poultry these days and for some reason, chicken just doesn't seem to be cutting it anymore. You could say it's the butcher's fault. Every time I pass by his stand, I am confronted with a wide variety of all kinds of beautiful birds in just about every size. From tiny quails to turkey legs that look like they belong on Fred Flintstone's plate! This awesome butcher also happens to get his organic birds from France so that's definitely reason to give him extra bonus points!
A few weeks ago, we bought two of the tastiest poussins ever from him. They were so tender and delightful and didn't need much more than some herbs and a few cloves of garlic. It felt extremely decadent to feast on a whole little bird and not have to debate about who gets the white meat or the dark. 
You can imagine my excitement when I caught a glimpse of an exquisite-looking, charming little guinea fowl this past Wednesday. It had a proud, rounded chest and creamy, taught flesh. I was in love! The only problem was how to cook it. Roast? Stuffed? Unstuffed? Braised? With cabbage? Mushrooms? Cream? A wine sauce? If only making that decision was as easy as having the butcher wrap it up for me to take home!
I decided to go the Burgundian route and prepared it with red wine, a little port for added 'oomph', some shallots, bacon and a couple of handfuls of chestnut mushrooms. This was definitely one of those meals that call for a bed of soft, billowy mashed potatoes with a good teaspoon of Dijon mustard stirred in. That goes without saying when we're dealing with food like this.
PS: If you've never cooked guinea fowl before, you're in for a treat. You can pretty much treat it as chicken as far as the preparation is concerened, but the taste is richer, gamier and when properly cooked, exceptionally tender. I think you could call it the chicken of the autumn because it simply adores apples, chestnuts and prunes!
Bon App├ętit!

Burgundian Style Guinea Fowl
Serves 3
good knob of butter 
2 tsps grapeseed oil (I happen to have a gorgeous one from Burgundy!)
1 handsome guinea fowl, jointed
sea salt and plenty of freshly-ground pepper
100g lardons
4 shallots, chopped
2 fat cloves of garlic, pressed
300ml pinot noir
100ml port
150 ml water
few sprigs of rosemary, finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, quartered
3 tbsps cream

Heat the butter and the oil and brown the pieces of guinea fowl over a medium-high fire, seasoning them well as you go. Do this is batches and do not crowd that pan! Transfer the browned pieces to a heavy-bottomed casserole. Lower the heat a bit, get rid of some of the remaining fat and cook the lardons, shallots and garlic for about 5 minutes. Start adding in the liquids bit by bit, stirring as you go. First the wine, then the port, then the water. Pour this sauce over the casserole with the guinea fowl, season with the chopped rosemary and a little more salt and pepper. Bring everything to a brief boil, reduce the heat, cover and allow to simmer for 40 minutes. Add the chestnut mushrooms and allow to cook for a further 8 minutes with the lid slightly ajar. Remove the guinea fowl from the sauce and add the cream. Let the sauce reduce slightly over a medium-high heat. Serve the guinea fowl with the sauce and some mustardy mashed potatoes and a fruity pinot noir.

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