I love Guinea Fowl, a game little bird that is tastier than your average chicken but not as dry as pheasant. I pan fry to brown the bird then bake it in a closed casserole/Dutch oven to achieve a tender result. Serve with dauphinoise potatoes and carrots with roasted carraway seeds.
A Guinea Fowl
A knob of butter and a splash of olive oil
Maldon Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g pancetta or unsmoked bacon in the piece
300g shallots, chopped roughly or kept whole if very small
1 carrot choped finely
1stick celery chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, kept whole with skin on
1/2 bottle good red wine + 3/4cup (200ml) of water
10g sprigs of lemon thyme (plain will do)
2 bay leaves
10 pepper corns
salt and pepper to taste
Place the pancetta pieces in a iron fying pan or cast iron casserole and heat until it begins release its fat. Saute for about 3-5 minutes or until the pieces start to brown.
Drain the excess fat, and put the cooked pancetta in your casserole and wipe out the frying pan with some kitchen paper.
Place the butter and oil in a iron frying pan or cast iron casserole and heat until it begins to sizzle. Season the guinea fowl with salt and pepper and place it in the hot fat. Using tongs and wearing an oven glove (as it can spit) turn the bird unil the skin is honey coloured rather than brown. Remove to a plate, sprinkle with half the thyme leaves, stuff the rest and the thyme twigs into the cavity of the bird, season again with salt and pepper and place on top of the pancetta in your casserole.
In the same frying pan as you browned the bird, add the vegetables and herbs from the marinade and sauté about 10 minutes or until they start to turn golden, you may need to add a little more fat.
When ready, add the wine, it will sizzle, count to ten, then pour the mixture into your casserole. Add the bay leaves and water and close the lid.
Cook in a medium oven. Check the guineafowl after 40 minutes to see how tender it is. It should be soft but not falling from its bones. It will probably take about an hour, depending on the size of bird and your oven. Lift the guineafowl out and into a bowl and cover with foil and a dishcloth while you reduce the sauce.
Place the casserole on direct heat, turn up the heat under the sauce and let it bubble enthusiastically until it has reduced by a third. As it bubbles down it will become thicker – though not thick – and will become quite glossy. If you wish for a thicker sauce, stir in a teaspoon of cold butter and a teaspoon of cornflour mixed to a runny paste with cold water. Whisk in speedily into the sauce. Taste and season to your liking.