Guinea fowl has a pronounced and delicious flavour that is reminiscent of game without being at all strong tasting. It is probably closest to pheasant and partridge and, in common with them, virtually fat-free, so it needs finely timed cooking if it is not to be too dry.
The best way to achieve this is to seal the bird in a pan before it goes into the oven – a restaurant technique used to save time that works well in the domestic context, where oven temperatures tend not to be as hot. After sealing, 20–25 minutes in an oven preheated to 250°C/475°F/gas 9 will be enough time for a
One guinea fowl will serve 2 people generously, three at a pinch. Take the bird out of the fridge at least an hour before you plan to cook’ it and preheat the oven well in advance to bring it up to the highest temperature. Serve with roast potatoes.
Preheat the oven to 250°C/475°F/ gas 9. Brush the bird all over with olive oil. Heat a dry heavy frying pan until smoking hot and lay the bird in it, one breast downwards, and seal. Turn and repeat on the other breast, then on the legs and back until all the surfaces are golden brown. Season generously with salt and pepper, push a knob of butter into the cavity and smear the rest over the breast and legs.
Transfer to a rack, breast upwards over a roasting tray, then roast for 20–25 minutes. Remove and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving off the legs, thighs and breasts.
Serve with a gravy made with the drippings from the roasting pan deglazed with a splash of red wine and bubbled with the chicken stock.
© 1998 Alastair Little and Richard Whittington estate. All rights reserved.