Last weekend Gerard and I gave our annual luncheon for our chef friends. They brought foie gras they had made and dozens of fresh oysters, which we had at the “aperitif,” after which we had my mother-in-law’s Vitello Tonnato—a very copious appetizer of slices of veal covered with a tuna fish sauce. I thought the meal should have just gone on to salad, cheese and dessert, but Gerard insisted I make a main course. There was too much food to add a meat or starch, so I settled on this recipe, which I had successfully made twice before. (I do not like to experiment when the chefs are coming!) Guinea fowl is very lean, and the three vegetables are all light and flavorful. Much to my great surprise, it was all consumed, and every plate was clean. The sauce was delicious, so I share this recipe with you.
12 servings (I had to use two Dutch ovens)
12 guinea fowl legs (I buy them by the dozen at www.Dartagnan.com)
For the marinade:
2 bottles dry white wine
20 black peppercorns, crushed in a mortar
4 carrots, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
12 sprigs thyme
8 bay leaves
12 branches Italian parsley
For the braise:
The guinea fowl pieces listed above
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
16 carrots, peeled and cut in half horizontally— and, if thick, vertically as well.
8 small onions, peeled and halved
16 small leeks, white and light green parts only, very well washed.
1 quart chicken stock
Bouquet garni of several branches of thyme, parsley, bay leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
For the accompaniment:
16 small baby turnips, peeled and halved or quartered (if larger than an inch in diameter)
3 tablespoons butter
½ teaspoon sea salt (preferably fleurs de sel de Guérande)
Early in the day, combine the marinade ingredients in a large noncorroding pan and marinate the fowl, turning from time to time, for about two hours. During that time boil the turnips until they are no longer hard. Then, in a pan, melt the butter and brown them. Keep them in the pan, and warm them up for a couple of minutes just before serving.
When the guinea fowl have marinated for two hours, pat them dry with a paper towel and brown until slightly golden in a bit of olive oil, over medium heat. (If the heat is too high, the skins will stick). Take them out and set them aside. Add some more olive oil (just enough to coat the bottom of the pot) and, once hot, brown the carrots and onions for two minutes and then add the leeks—all over medium heat. Stir. Strain the marinade, adding the liquid to the pot. Bring to a boil. Lower the flame and place the guinea fowl on top of the vegetables. Add enough stock so that most of the vegetables are covered in liquid but the guinea fowl is above the liquid. It will cook from the moisture of the liquid, taking on the flavors of the vegetables. Cover the pot and place either in a 350º F oven or on the stove over a low flame for about 90 minutes.
I prepared the vegetables all in one pot and then divided them, the guinea fowl and the liquids into the two Dutch ovens, finishing them on the stove. To keep them warm while we had the aperitifs and appetizer, I put all of the cooked vegetables into a large roasting pan with half of the remaining liquid. I placed aluminum foil over the roasting pan and put it into a 200ºF oven to keep warm without further cooking. Just before serving I put the broiler on for about three minutes, which further browned the skin of the guinea fowl legs.
About a half hour before serving, I reduced the rest of the liquid to a rich, thick sauce by removing two-thirds of it and boiling down the one-third remaining in the pot. When it started to thicken, I then added, spoon by spoon, the rest of the cooking juices into the pot, allowing each to be absorbed before adding the next. Then I strained the sauce. To serve I placed the guinea fowl on one platter, spooning some sauce over each piece and serving the rest in a gravy boat on the side. The roasting pan vegetables were served apart, as were the turnips.