Friday, 18 March 2016

Braised Guinea Fowl with Carrots & Prunes

I can't believe I've had this blog for mumble, mumble years, and this is the first time I have cooked a Guinea fowl recipe. Okay, I'm going to have to admit it: this is the first time I have cooked a Guinea fowl! What is it they say? Tastes like chicken!

They are not the easiest things to get hold of, but I think they are becoming more available. I got mine at Cirrus Hill Farm, where I was assured they cook exactly like a chicken. So you can use Guinea fowl in any chicken recipe you like, or if you can't get Guinea fowl, you can use chicken in a Guinea fowl recipe. The meat is perhaps a little gamier than chicken. It looks quite dark when raw, but it cooked to look very much like chicken, except for some darker patches of skin. My bird was not quite as plump, especially in the breast and thighs, as I would have expected in a chicken, and on that note I would say there was a fair bit less fat too - this was a very lean bird.

This recipe is exactly what you can expect from me for winter meat cooking; with all my favourite elements of braising, vinegar, root vegetables, and - less usual - prunes and a little honey to mellow it. Serve it with polenta, mashed potatoes, pasta, rice, quinoa; whatever you like. We had ours with mashed potatoes and peas.

4 to 6 servings
3 hours - 1 hour prep time

Braised Guinea Fowl with Carrots & Prunes

1 1.5 to 2 kg (3.5 to 4 pound) guinea fowl or roasting chicken
2 medium carrots (2 cups diced)
1 cup diced celeriac, rutabaga, OR parsnip
2 medium onions OR 1 large leek
3 or 4 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons bacon fat, chicken fat, or mild vegetable oil
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup broth or water
2 or 3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup pitted prunes

Cut the guinea fowl into pieces; remove the legs and joint them into thigh and drumstick; cut the wings off and remove the tips from them; and carve the breasts off in one piece from each side. Set these pieces aside, apart from the wing tips which should go into a 2 litre (quart) pot with the rest of the carcass, broken into 3 pieces, and along with the neck if you have it. Cover the bones with a generous litre of water, and set to simmer on the stove.

Peel and cut the carrots into small chunks. Peel and cut the celeriac, rutabaga or parsnip into small chunks. You can add some of the peelings to the broth pot if you like. Peel and coarsely chop the onions or wash, trim and chop the leek, and peel and slice the garlic.

Heat 2 tablespoons of the fat in a large skillet and brown the carrot and celeriac, rutabaga or parsnip pieces. When they begin to show brown spits, add the onion or leek. When they are all nicely browned, put the vegetables into a large stew pot, with the apple cider vinegar and the broth. You can dip it out of the pot of simmering bones. Add the bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Bring it all to a simmer.

Add another tablespoon of fat to the skillet and brown the guinea fowl pieces on each side. Add them to the stew pot with the vegetables, cover, and simmer gently for 1 hour.

Remove the pieces of fowl from the pot, along with the bay leaves. Discard the bay leaves. Mash the vegetables well, then add the fowl pieces back into the pot, along with the honey, vinegar and prunes. Simmer for another half hour, then serve.

p.s. I didn't say what to do with the pot of broth, did I? Well, when it's done, you strain it. And it's broth. Use it for something else. If you don't have an immediate use for it, it will freeze well. 

Last year at this time I made Meyer's Lemon Curd Cake Roll. This year I only have 2 lemons and they are not quite ripe yet!

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