Another Autumn evening, another seasonal dinner inspiration. Guinea fowl is a bird that originates from North Africa; in Italian, it is called gallina faraona, which translates as "pharaoh queen hen". Just take a look at this animal and I am sure you'll agree it is a very appropriate name! Its meat is darker and has a more gamey flavour than chicken, however as it doesn't have as much fat, it tends to dry out if simply oven roasted. For this reason, pot roasting it tends to be the best way to ensure the meat stays moist. I have added flavour to my guinea fowl by using some chopped vegetables, white wine, thyme and a handful of dried porcini mushrooms - the gravy these ingredients make is to die for!
INGREDIENTS (for three/four people)
- One guinea fowl
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- One white onion
- 2 cloves of garlic
- A few sprigs of fresh thyme
- A glass of white wine
- 150 ml of chicken stock
- A handful of dried porcini mushrooms
- Some olive oil
- A knob of butter
- Salt & pepper
Start by prepping your vegetables: finely chop the carrots, celery and onion and set them aside. Soak the porcini in a mug of boiling water for 10 - 15 minutes, then drain them (reserving the liquid) and chop them up as well.
Season the guinea fowl with salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil in a heavy based, cast iron casserole pan and brown the bird all over, until nicely coloured (this should take approximately 10 minutes).
Lift the guinea fowl out of the pan, turn the heat down and tip in the chopped onion, carrot and celery. Let them cook gently, until soft and translucent. Add the liquid you obtained from soaking the porcini (be careful to only pour 2/3 of it; the remaining liquid at the bottom will contain some easily visible soil and other sediments that you don't want in your gravy) and the white wine, then turn the heat up and let it bubble for a few minutes, in order to allow the alcohol to evaporate. Finally, add the chopped porcini and thyme, return the guinea fowl to the pan, pour the chicken stock all over the bird and turn the heat down to bring the liquid to a gentle simmer. Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the guinea fowl's juices run clear. When the meat is cooked, transfer it to a carving board or a serving tray, then cover it with tin foil and leave it to rest for about 10 minutes, while you put the finishing touches to your gravy.
To finish off your gravy: turn the heat up to let the cooking juices reduce a little, then roughly mash all the vegetables together with a fork and add a knob of butter to thicken the consistency of the sauce. Carve the guinea fowl and spoon the gravy juice and squashed veggies all over it. Serve with some crispy roast potatoes.