Guinea fowl are native only to West Africa but modern day farming practices means they are now widely available around the world. Although technically a game bird with a mildly rich flavor, they can be cooked in any way that you would cook a chicken, for the same period of time. This means that they can effectively be substituted in to virtually any recipe which calls for chicken. This experimental soup worked very well and is the perfect warmer on a cold winter's night.
Ingredients (Serves 6 to 8)
- 1 guinea fowl, around 2 to 3 pounds in weight
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 medium sized white onion
- 1 each of red, yellow and green bell peppers*
- 2 red chilies
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
- 1 green chili
- ½ cup (4 ounces) basmati or long grain rice
- 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf)
- Fresh bread to serve
*On this occasion, the peppers were bought in packs, already sliced. Each mixed pack was about the equivalent of one whole bell pepper.
Sometimes, guinea fowl are purchased with the bony leg ends still attached. These should be removed by cutting through the joint with a cleaver or very sharp knife. You may also wish to remove the pygostyle (parson's/pope's nose), which is the fatty protrusion sticking out from the end of the bird (see photo). Be sure also to completely remove any string or elastic which has been used to hold the bird in shape in its packaging.
If you have bought whole peppers, they should be seeded and cut in to around quarter inch wide strips. You should use about a third of each pepper at this stage of the procedure. Wash the carrots, top and roughly chop. Take one of the red chilies only at this stage, top and roughly chop. Peel the onion, cut it in half and set half aside for later inclusion in the soup. Cut the other half in half again.
Put the guinea fowl in to a large soup or stock pot along with the vegetables prepared for inclusion in the stock. Add the bay leaves, whole peppercorns and around a teaspoon of salt. Pour in four or five pints of cold water, until the solids are comfortably covered to a depth of around an inch. Put the pot on to a high heat until the water just starts to simmer. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to achieve a gentle simmer for forty-five minutes.
When the three-quarter hour is up, turn the heat off under the pot. Use such as a very large slotted spoon and a carving fork to lift the poached guinea fowl from the pot to a large, deep plate. Cover and allow to cool for around half an hour or until the flesh is cool enough to handle.
Lift the bird to a chopping board, sitting it breasts side up. Take a large carving knife and cut through the flesh at the joint between one leg and the body. The bone should very easily pop free. Sit the leg to one side and repeat with the second leg.
The wings should subsequently be removed in exactly the same way as the legs.
Peel the skin from the main body of the fowl and discard. Starting flush up against one side of the breast bone, cut through the flesh until you feel the knife hit the ribcage. Using the ribs as a guide for your knife, cut the breast fillet free with a serious of slits in one direction only. Repeat with the second breast fillet.
Use your fingers to peel the meat in small pieces from the legs, wings and main carcass. Discard the skin only.
Return the bones to the stock pot and bring back to the gentlest of simmers with the pot covered for at least a further hour though ideally two. This makes for a much more strongly flavored stock and subsequently soup.
The breast meat of the guinea fowl does not work particularly well in soup. It is liable to become dry and stringy. For this reason, the breast fillets were put in the fridge to be used for an alternative meal the following evening. They will easily keep in this way for a couple of days.
The leg and wing meat should be put in a separate dish and covered - but not refrigerated - until required for the soup.
When the stock is done simmering, turn off the heat and leave it for an hour to part cool. This diminishes the risk of being scalded by splashing stock during the straining process. After this time, use a large slotted spoon to scoop the larger solids from the stock and discard.
Line a fine sieve with two or three sheets of kitchen paper and sit it over a large bowl. Ladle the stock in to the sieve in stages to strain. You will need to change the kitchen paper a few times as it becomes clogged with fat.
Slice the remaining onion half, the second red chili and the green chili. If you wish, you could remove the seeds and their membranes from the chilies.
Rinse out the stock pot and pour in the strained stock. Add the chilies, onion and the remaining bell pepper slices. Stir well and bring to a simmer for ten minutes.
Wash the rice thoroughly in a sieve under running cold water. Add it to the soup and simmer for eight further minutes.
The guinea fowl meat should be added to the soup, stirred through and the simmer maintained for two more minutes just to ensure it is fully and evenly re-heated.
The cilantro should be stirred through the soup thirty seconds or so before the end of the simmering period.
Taste the soup and season further with salt and pepper as required.
A good quality, freshly baked bread works well with this soup, as with most. This is wheat, spelt and rye bread, purchased so fresh that it was still warm from the baker's oven. Ladle the soup in to bowls and serve immediately.