Guinea fowl is technically a type of wild game but it is much more moderately flavored than most other game birds. It is actually not that much stronger in taste than chicken but there is a definite extra little something to tease your taste buds. The good news about cooking guinea fowl is that it can be included in virtually any recipe designed for chicken and cooked in exactly the same way. Normally when I roast it whole like this, I rub the skin with olive oil and salt it well prior to roasting to allow the skin to become really crisp and golden but this experimental option of using bacon definitely added something extra to the finished flavor of the bird.
Ingredients (Serves 2)
- 2 large, baking type potatoes
- 1 small guinea fowl, 2 to 3 pounds in weight
- 12 slices of bacon (or 6 rashers of smoked British back bacon, as used in this instance)
- Olive oil
- 2 large ripe plums
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 10 to 12 long tender stems of broccoli
- Salt and black pepper
The potatoes firstly have to be cooked by boiling and left to cool before they can be roasted. Peel them and chop them in to one to one and a half inch chunks. Add them to a large pot of cold water and season with a little salt. Bring the water to a moderate simmer for around fifteen to twenty minutes until the potatoes are just softened. Drain well through a colander at your sink and leave them uncovered for around ten minutes to steam off. When the steam has visibly stopped rising from them, return them to the pot, put the lid on and set aside somewhere to cool completely.
Start your oven preheating to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6 while you make final preparations to the guinea fowl. Start by examining the skin for any remaining feathers and plucking them out. Quite often and as in this instance, you will find a few. It's not absolutely essential but I also like to cut off the parson's/pope's nose, which is the small protrusion at the end of the main body and between the legs. This allows the juices to run freer and is especially important when you intend later roasting potatoes in these juices. If the bony, dark colored ends are still attached to the legs, these can also be removed at this stage or after cooking, whichever you prefer.
Just as with chicken or turkey, the best way to calculate the cooking time required for a guinea fowl is to do so by its weight. The formula is twenty minutes per pound in weight plus twenty extra minutes. If you do have kitchen scales, weigh the bird after performing the preparations described in the previous paragraph. If you don't have kitchen scales, you may be fortunate in that the weight was detailed on the packaging, or perhaps you could ask in store for the bird to be weighed on your behalf at the time of purchase.
Lightly oil a deep roasting tray. Season the cavity of the guinea fowl with salt and pepper and sit it breast sides up on the tray. Lay the bacon slices or rashers on the breasts and the thighs. Put the tray in to the oven for the calculated cooking time.
When the cooking time has expired, remove the tray from the oven - being careful of sputtering fat - and pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a metal skewer or a fork. Check that the juices run clear. If you see any sign of red or pink in the juices, return the tray to the oven for ten minutes before testing again. Tilt the bird with a carving fork and spatula to let all the juices gathered in the cavity run in to the tray before lifting it to a chopping board and leaving it for fifteen minutes to rest.
Gently shake the potatoes in the pot, holding the lid tightly in place, to rough up the edges a little bit. This will increase the crispiness when they are roasted. Tip them in to the roasting tray and stir them gently around with a wooden spoon to evenly coat them in the fat and juices. Put the tray in to the oven and turn the heat up to 450F/220C/Gas Mark 8. Let them roast for twenty minutes.
Wash the plums in lukewarm water and dry with kitchen paper. Cut all the way around the circumference with a very sharp knife, right through to the stone. Twist the two halves apart. Provided the plums are properly ripened, you should then easily be able to pop the stones free.
Slice each half in to about four to six pieces before adding them to a small saucepan with the half teaspoon of sugar and just a tiny little bit of salt. Add a couple of tablespoons of cold water and cook on a very low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the plums start to break down and form a sauce. This should only take around five or six minutes.
Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer and add the broccoli stems to simmer for five minutes. Lift the bacon slices or rashers off the guinea fowl. They can either be served on the plates or eaten separately.
Take hold of one of the legs and pull it gently away from the body. Use a cleaver or carving knife to cut through the flesh all around the joint with the main body and pop the joint to free the leg. Do the same with the second leg. If the bony ends are still attached, cut them free and discard at this stage.
The wings should be removed in exactly the same way. I actually ate the wings and bacon rashers for a late supper the same night.
To remove the breast fillets, start on one side of the breast bone which runs along the top center and cut through until you feel the resistance of the ribs. Allow the rib cage to serve as a guide for your blade as you carefully slice off the full fillet. Do exactly the same on the other side of the bone to remove the second breast fillet.
Remove the roasted potatoes from the oven and lift them briefly to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain and dry off. Drain the broccoli at your sink through a colander. Add a guinea fowl leg and breast portion to each plate. Arrange the potatoes and broccoli stems alongside before spooning on some plum sauce immediately before service.