Steamed Guinea Fowl, Asparagus, Preserved Lemon and Tarragon Salad

With Wild Rocket and Grain Mustard Avocado Dressing

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Preparation info

    • Difficulty

      Medium

Appears in

Salads

Salads

By Peter Gordon

Published 2005

  • About

Guinea fowl aren’t frequently used, yet they’re as easy to cook as a regular chicken. They have a similar flavour to free-range chicken, but have subtle differences that make it worthwhile experimenting with them. They are quite lean, so do make sure you don’t overcook them. Preserved lemons – preserved in salt and lemon juice – are increasingly easy to find in good delis and Middle Eastern shops, but they can be made very easily at home.

When I steam food at home I tend to use a bamboo steamer from Asia, but you’ll also be able to use a metal purpose-built one, or one of those electric plastic ones that are more common these days. One tip when steaming is that if you flavour the water with aromatics, such as herbs, tea or spices, some of the flavour will be imparted into the steamed product. I always steam birds with the skin on – if you’re on some diet that won’t allow you to eat the skin, then still steam the bird with the skin on and take it off once cooked – it’ll help keep the bird moist and add flavour.

Ingredients

  • 4 guinea fowl breasts
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 medium asparagus stalks
  • ½ preserved lemon
  • 6 tarragon stems
  • 2 large handfuls of wild rocket
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • small handful of sprouts

For the Grain Mustard Avocado Dressing

  • 2 avocados, halved, stoned and flesh scooped out
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons grain mustard
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil

Method

Lightly season the guinea fowl all over and put to one side. Set up a steamer with 5 cm of water in the bottom – ideally you want to be able to steam all the breasts together in one layer, so they cook evenly.

Snap the asparagus spears by holding either end between the thumb and forefinger of each hand and gently bending them towards each other. The end with the tip is the good tender piece; the other end will be a little woody, although you can peel it with a potato peeler. Place the woody end in the steamer water.

Using a sharp knife, cut the rind from the preserved lemon – it is easiest to do this by cutting the lemon half in half again, lengthways, and then sitting it, rind side down, on a chopping board. Poke your knife in at one of the ends, then cut the fleshy bit out as you run the knife parallel to the board. Place the fleshy bit in the steamer water.

Remove the tarragon leaves from the stems and place the stems in the water. Turn the steamer on and, when it’s boiling, place the asparagus in and cook for 4 minutes. Take out and put on a plate to cool.

Next, steam the breasts, place them in the steamer, skin side up, and steam. They should take between 12 and 15 minutes, depending on thickness. To see if they’re cooked, remove one breast and lay it on a chopping board. Poke a thin sharp knife into the thickest part of the breast and cut through into the centre. The meat should be white – if it’s a little opaque, continue steaming until it’s done. Remove the breasts from the steamer and put on a plate.

While the breasts are steaming, chop the preserved lemon rind into small dice and mix with the tarragon leaves and rocket.

Make the grain mustard and avocado dressing, place one-third of the avocado flesh in a food processor or blender (or use a hand mixer), add the other ingredients and blitz to a smooth purée. Season. Using a fork or potato masher, roughly mash the remaining flesh with a little seasoning.

To Serve

Dollop the avocado mash on 4 plates. Slice the asparagus at an angle and add to the rocket, tarragon, lemon and olive oil. Toss together, then mound on top of the avocado. Slice the breasts at an angle into 5–6 pieces and lay on top of the salad, then spoon on the dressing and sprinkle with the sprouts.