Lightly season the guinea fowl all over and put to one side. Set up a steamer with
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.
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.
© 2005 Peter Gordon. All rights reserved.