Grilled Guinea Fowl with Watercress Salad

It is best to do as little as possible to this wonderful bird (which tastes the way most chickens in the world should), but getting a crisp skin with a young bird that takes very little cooking is a problem. This recipe, which calls for fast cooking, is inspired by a recipe for poulet d’Inde (either turkey or guinea fowl) in a cookbook from 1651, Le Cuisinier François, of La Varenne, which uses raspberry vinegar to glaze and finish off the grilled bird.

With the acid flavor on the skin of the guinea fowl, I have purposely left any acid out of the dressing for the watercress.

Ingredients

  • 1 large fresh guinea fowl (3–4 pounds)
  • ½ cup fresh raspberries
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 bunches watercress, washed, spin-dried
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Cut out the backbone of the guinea fowl and flatten it as for the poussin chicken.

Sieve the raspberries into a bowl, and discard the seeds in the strainer. Add the olive oil, thyme, and lemon zest to the bowl and mix them together with the sieved raspberries. Put the guinea fowl in the bowl and rub the marinade all over the bird, leaving it in the marinade skin side down. Cover loosely and marinate for 2 hours in the refrigerator.

Take the guinea fowl out of the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. Start a real charcoal or wood fire, or preheat the grill or broiler.

Brush half the marinade on the guinea fowl skin, and grill or broil for 8 minutes. Turn over the guinea fowl, brush with the rest of the marinade, and grill another 5 minutes. Finish the cooking, skin side to the fire, for another 3 minutes, or until just barely pink in the thickest part. Let rest 15 minutes in a warm place.

Put a pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper in a bowl, and whisk in the walnut oil. When ready to serve the guinea fowl, toss the watercress in the walnut oil dressing and serve with the guinea fowl cut in quarters.

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