Guinea fowl

We’ll soon be heading into the game season with the first grouse appearing on menus from August 12th, ‘The Glorious Twelfth’ and the first date of the shooting season.

While we’re waiting how about some guinea fowl? Like chicken, but more gamey in flavour, guinea fowl can make a lighter or more substantial meal. Guinea fowl is now widely available to buy and it’s not limited to any season. Free-range birds tend to offer the best flavour.

Originating from West Africa, this colourful bird has adapted well in Europe. These days France is by far the largest producer of guinea fowl (pintade in French) and it’s also farmed in the UK.

This is a particularly lean and healthy meat;  if you cook a guinea fowl, you’ll see very little fat in the roasting pan. I often cover the bird with bacon or cook it with a good stock as a casserole to ensure tender and tasty meat.

Today, in the hope that the sun breaks through, I’m preparing a lighter meal. I’ll be roasting a guinea, stuffed with fresh herbs including rosemary, and serving it with wild mushrooms. One guinea usually provides two generous portions with some leftovers.

Cooking the guinea:

Heat the over to 200C/gas mark 6 or a bit less if you have a fan oven, a gentle heat is what’s required.

Heat around two tablespoons of oil in the roasting tin then brown the bird breast down in the tin for 10 minutes on each side. Turn the bird the right way up and continue to cook for a further 20 minutes or a more*. Cook the mushrooms in a little oil and place them around the pieces of meat on a warm serving dish.

* As in the case of chicken, the juices should run clear when you poke a skewer into the thickest part of the bird.

Wine choice: Try an unoaked red wine such as Guímaro (vintage 2010) from Ribeira Sacra in north-west Spain. A perfect summer red and a good match for the gamey flavour of guinea fowl, this wine is made by made by Pedro Rodríguez Perez. Pour it into a big wine glass to fully appreciate its vibrant red fruit flavours and freshness.

Guímaro, priced around £14.50, is available from: Bottle Apostle Hackney, Butler’s Wine Cellar in Brighton, and from The Wine Society.

For further information about guinea fowl see: www.lapintade.com

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