Guinea Fowl Normandé


This exquisite, classic dish isn’t as rich and fattening as it sounds and it is terrifically yummy, we get our guinea fowl from Sainsbury’s when they have them on special offer at less than £5 per bird.

Waitrose also have some very nice guinea fowl on their meat counter, more expensive but theirs is free range from the Loire valley. Your local butcher should be able to get guinea fowl for you and there are lots of on-line suppliers of game birds.

This was always a popular item on the menu at the Great Tree Hotel we used to get our Guinea fowl from a local supplier and my young chefs were always please that he always brought them to us dressed, I suppose all young commis chefs dislike the job of dressing birds I know I did.

In later years Lord Hanson, Nigel Lawson and William Waldegrave, and many others also liked this dish.

Serves / Makes:      2 servings

Prep-Time:               10 minutes

Cook-Time:              60 minutes

You Will Need

2 guinea fowl weighing 800 grams (1 and 3/4 lbs.) each

1-teaspoon salt

1 pinch white pepper

3 tablespoons oil

½ cup shelled walnuts

½-teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 cup, cider

1 cup, soured cream

6 tablespoon Calvados

2 thin rashers streaky bacon

450 grams, Bramley apples

3 tablespoons, butter

1-teaspoon sugar

Method

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gasmark 6.

Wash and dry the guinea fowl, then rub well with salt and pepper, brown quickly in oil in a flameproof casserole, and remove from the pan and pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the oil.

Put the walnuts and thyme into the pan and fry, stirring, for 1 minute before slowly adding the cider, soured cream, and Calvados, you can let the calvados flame its only the alcohol that burns off.

Lay the guinea fowl in the sauce, covering the breasts with 1 bacon rasher each, cover, and put in the oven for 45 minutes.

Peel, core and slice the apples, melt the butter, and fry the apple slices gently for 10 minutes, then sprinkle with sugar.

Brown the guinea fowl on a oven tray in the oven for 10 minutes, and reduce the sauce, cut the guinea fowl in halves (we always remove the breastbone, back bone), serve with the sauce, garnished with apple slices and enjoy!

Notes

The domestic Guinea Fowl is still found in the wild where it forages in large flocks and is considered a fine game bird. It is mainly kept for food, as its eggs and meat are very good to eat. Sometimes called Pintade, Guinea Fowl are a family of birds originating from Africa, related to other game birds such as the pheasants, turkeys and partridges, and having a long history of domestication, mainly involving the Helmeted Guinea fowl?

Here in the UK, they were usually known as "Gleanies” the young (called "keets") are very small at birth and are kept in a brooder box inside the house until about six weeks of age, before being moved into a proper coop or enclosure the cooked flesh of guinea fowl resembles chicken in texture, with a flavour somewhere between chicken and turkey it makes a great alternative to chicken for a warming dinner on an autumn night, with a lovely flavour that is slightly gamey but very subtle much less gamier than pheasant or grouse, it can be magnificent when cooked simply. Guinea fowl meat is high in protein and low in cholesterol. It is a good source of vitamin B6, selenium, and niacin.

Guinea fowl are an important food throughout much of Africa, south of the Sahara, and are found in every region of the world. France, Belgium, and Italy are amongst the largest producers in Europe they are hardy birds that forage for food and so are often farmed in free range or semi wild facilities where they perform a valuable pest control function. They have an acute awareness of predators and so are valued for their role as a ‘watchdog’, alerting farmers to any henhouse intrusions. It is reported that they have the ability to distinguish between farmers’ family members and strangers.

Buying Guinea Fowl;

Available all year round

The Best Season Is; September, October, November, December, January, February

Look for free-range guinea fowl, rather than the intensively reared birds, many butchers sell free-range guinea fowl imported from France and if you ever see them the eggs are excellent and worth buying.

Storing Guinea Fowl 

With giblets removed, a whole guinea fowl will keep in the fridge for 3 or 4 days.

Preparing And Cooking Guinea Fowl

Guinea fowl is prepared in much the same way as chicken as it is generally a smaller bird, cooking methods that help retain moistness are recommended, pot roasting or casseroling.

Barding or regular basting is prudent when roasting guinea fowl, legs and wings are also excellent if marinated for a few hours before grilling.

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