Every time I roast a guinea fowl, or cook one in a lidded pot with cider, apples and rosemary, I ask myself why this doesn’t happen more often. The skin crisps pleasingly, the flesh is gently gamey and the roast bones make a flavoursome broth. There is enough meat to feed four on the average bird – they are rarely very large – but hardly anything left for sandwiches as there is with a big chicken. Maybe that’s it: my fondness for a roast chicken sandwich with a slice of thyme and onion stuffing, sprigs of watercress and a thick drift of mayonnaise on a Sunday evening.
A guinea fowl roasts sweetly and is good value. I always stuff them with cooked whole wheat, herbed breadcrumbs or crushed floury potatoes. The roasting juices trickle down through the stuffing, enriching it with the flavour of the bird. We seem to have got out of the practice of making stuffing, but I like everything about it: the way it makes the meat go further, adding another savoury element to the plate and introducing a fresh note of lemon or soft spice, or whatever else we season it with.
I have moved on from the traditional sausage-based stuffing, using lighter mediums, such as mograbia and fregola – the Sardinian semolina pasta, like large pearls of couscous. Oh, and freekeh. The green wheat works in this case, too.
It took me a long time to work out why I hold such a fondness for Easter eggs. I have finally clicked that it is the thinness of the chocolate that appeals – so crisp and fine and melting is it. I have never been much of a fan of chocolate desserts, finding them too rich after dinner and preferring them as, say, a mid-afternoon treat. That said, I wouldn’t say no to a classic chocolate mousse, but I like it with a crisp, thin, curling almond biscuit or one of those Belgian waffle wafers.
This week, I took to crumbling soft ginger cookies and folding them through the mousse before it sets – crunchy nuggets among the soft, fudgy chocolate.
I like to serve chocolate mousse with a jug of simple double cream. Something to flatter the mousse rather than smother it. Happy Easter.
Roast guinea fowl, fregola stuffing and peas with lemon and mint
This stuffing works well with chicken, too. The fregola with herbs and lemon started life as a side dish for grilled lamb. Here, it benefits from the juices of the bird, trickling through as it roasts.
lemon thyme leaves 2 tbsp
parsley a small bunch
bay leaves 3
guinea fowl 1 x 1.5kg
olive oil 3 tbsp
For the peas:
olive oil 3 tbsp
lemon juice of 1
peas 300g, frozen
mint leaves a small handful
Bring a medium saucepan of water to the boil, salt it lightly, then add the fregola and bring back to the boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, and leave to cook for 10-15 minutes, until al dente. Drain and set aside. Set the oven at 200C/gas mark 6.
Chop the lemon thyme leaves and stir into the fregola. Remove the leaves from the parsley and roughly chop, then add to the fregola with the butter cut into small pieces. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the bay leaves then spoon the fregola inside the guinea fowl. Rub the olive oil over the bird and season, then roast in the preheated oven for about 40-45 minutes.
Remove the guinea fowl from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. For the peas: chop the parsley, warm the olive oil in a large, shallow pan then squeeze in the lemon juice. Tip in the peas, cover with a lid so the peas steam, and cook for 3-4 minutes, then stir in a little salt and the parsley and mint leaves.
Carve the guinea fowl then serve with the peas, stuffing and juices from the tin.