I confess this was the first time I had either cooked or eaten guinea fowl. It’s not something you see in the shops every day but my amazing butcher got one in for me. You probably have an amazing butcher near you too – go in and make friends.
If I am honest, if I thought of guinea fowl at all, I thought of it as a game bird but it’s not – it is a domesticated, farmed bird and it is available all year round. And it is delicious.
How can I describe the flavour? You know how everyone describes new food as tasting like chicken? Well this does – only it tastes like the most chickeny chicken you have ever had – like condensed chicken, sort of chicken but more gamey. That’s all I have – try it and tell me what you think.
I made it using a recipe I have used many times before with chicken (and you can of course use chicken if you prefer – simply adjust the cooking time depending on the size of your bird). If I am honest it makes this dish very rich and if I made it again I would probably leave out the cream – it just doesn’t need it.
The other good thing about guinea fowl is that one bird is the ideal size for two people so this dish is perfect for a romantic dinner à deux.
1 Guinea Fowl
100g /4 oz Bacon Lardons
2 Sticks Celery
2 Bay Leaves
1 bunch Tarragon (chopped)
1 tbsp Chopped Parsley
100g / 4 oz Puy Lentils
100ml / 4 fl oz Dry White Wine
225 ml / 8 fl oz Chicken Stock
1 tbsp Olive Oil
A generous Knob of Butter
2 tbsp Double Cream
Pre-heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4
Wash and drain the lentils – set aside.
Heat a large frying pan and pour in the oil and butter. Season the guinea fowl all over with salt and pepper and place in the frying pan. Gently brown on all sides and then remove from the pan and set aside.
Fry the lardons in the same pan until golden and beginning to crisp. Finely dice the carrot, onion and celery (this is called a mirepoix – just in case you were wondering) and add it to the bacon. Cook for 10 minutes until the veg softens a little. Stir in the lentils, wine, chicken stock, bay leaves and half the tarragon. Bring to the boil then transfer to an oven proof dish (choose one that will look good on the table too).
Place the guinea fowl on top of the veg and lentils and cover with a lid or some tin foil and put in the oven for an hour. Once cooked remove from the oven and lift out the guinea fowl – set aside to rest for five minutes. Meanwhile taste the lentil mixture, adjust the seasoning and stir in a good squeeze of lemon juice, the rest of the tarragon, the parsley and the double cream.
Nestle the bird back into the dish and serve.
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