While some of you were checking out the tandoori turkey recipe for Thanksgiving ideas, I was out shopping for the final ingredients for the family holiday feast. I had already picked up my farm-raised fresh turkey (and participated in an impromptu re-enactent of the turkey scene from New Jack City), but as I made my final rounds I noticed that guinea fowl was available at no less than three separate stores. I took this as a sign that I should cook one, so I snatched a fresh specimen with no clear idea of how I would prepare it.
I had eaten guinea fowl once before in Puerto Rico, where it was offered as a side dish to the best pig ever. It was spit-roasted, but I didn’t want to add that effort to my already overloaded Thanksgiving prep schedule. I wound up consulting Fergus Henderson’s Beyond Nose to Tail for this simple but tasty recipe.
Guinea fowl are native to Africa, and look like this:
The fowl I found at my local butcher’s looked like this:
I chopped off the neck (with head still attached) and feet, then assembled my ingredients: half a red cabbage, thinly sliced; two cups of red wine; about a cup and a half of trotter gear; a quart of chicken stock; fourteen prunes; three peeled garlic cloves; two bay leaves; a bundle of thyme; and a red onion, thinly sliced.
I browned the fowl in duck fat in a small roasting pan, until “appropriately tanned.”
After removing the fowl from the pan I stuffed it with four of the prunes and a few large spoonfuls of trotter gear. I cooked the onions in the fat until they were softened, then followed them with the cabbage, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, red wine, salt, pepper, and the remaining trotter gear.
I set the fowl upside down in the cabbage, then added enough chicken stock to cover.
I covered the pan tightly with foil and let it cook in a 325°F oven for two and a half hours, until I had a “giving bird.”
After a brief rest out of the pan, I carved up the fowl, which was more like letting it fall apart at the joints. I spooned a healthy portion of the cabbage, onions, and braising liquid into shallow bowls and set the meat on top.
The fowl wasn’t particularly gamey, it tasted more like a very strongly-flavored chicken. The surprise was the sauce, which was quite sweet from both the prunes and the trotter gear, which had been cooked in madeira. Game and fruit are a traditional pairing, of which this dish was a fine example. As Fergus states:
A most comforting sight in the middle of the table, happy bird surrounded by red cabage, wobbly trotter, and prunes.
And, as an added bonus, I would up with a quart of guinea fowl stock to use in another application. I’m still thinking guinea fowl pie.