How to Roast a Guinea Fowl
Guinea fowl is a type of wild game bird, originally from the country of Guinea in West Africa. They are now farmed extensively and exclusively for food purposes in a number of countries. They have a very mild gamey flavour and are perfect for those who don't like anything to taste too gamey, or for people who have never tasted game, by way of an introduction to the game eating experience. Unfortunately - like with so many other cooking ingredients - the cooking process for guinea fowl is often incredibly over-complicated and the bird is not enjoyed at its best. This page will show how to roast a guinea fowl to simple and delicious perfection.
How to Prepare a Guinea Fowl for Roasting
When you buy a fresh guinea fowl from a supermarket, it is almost certain it will have been cleaned, prepared and made oven ready. All you really need to do is remove any trussing and possibly the giblets from the body cavity. You may, however, also want to cut off and discard the parson's nose, especially if you intend roasting potatoes or other vegetables in the cooking juices, as this lets the juices better flow in to the pan.
Note: If you buy the guinea fowl frozen, it must be fully defrosted in the bottom of your fridge before it is cooked. This is likely to take 24 to 48 hours, depending upon the size of the bird.
It is from this point on that the roasting of a guinea fowl is often made to be ridiculously and unnecessarily complicated. To prepare it for the oven, simply season the cavity with salt and black pepper and lay it breasts side up on a roasting tray which has been lightly oiled with olive oil. Drizzle more olive oil over the guinea fowl and rub it in evenly with your hands. Season well with salt only. Put it in to the oven - preheated to 375F/190C - for twenty minutes per pound in weight and twenty minutes extra. Do not open the oven door during cooking.
How to Check a Guinea Fowl is Properly Cooked
Just like with chicken or turkey, it is important to establish that the guinea fowl is properly cooked when you remove it from the oven. This is easily done by sticking a skewer in to the thickest part of the thigh and ensuring the escaping juices run clear. If any trace of pink or red can be seen, put it back in the oven for ten more minutes before repeating the same test.
The Guinea Fowl Must be Rested after Roasting
When you have established that the guinea fowl is indeed properly cooked, sit the tray to the side - well out of the way of potential accidents - and leave the bird to rest for at least twenty minutes. After this time, use a carving fork inserted in the cavity to carefully lift it to a chopping board for portioning.
How to Chop and Portion a Guinea Fowl
A guinea fowl is not like a large Christmas or Thanksgiving turkey which is carved to serve up to twelve or even more people. One average guinea fowl will provide a good amount of meat for two people and it is a good idea to cut it in to a total of six portions for service. This allows each person a leg portion, a wing and a small breast fillet.
The first step is to carefully slice through the flesh between each thigh and the main body of the guinea fowl and pop the bone from the socket, freeing each leg portion.
When the legs have been removed, the wings should be removed in a very similar way.
When the wings are removed, it is then time to carefully remove the two breast fillets from the main carcass. Ensure you sit the legs and wings safely to the side on a plate to afford you plenty of room to carry out this procedure.
Start on one side of the central breast bone and cut in the form of slits, in one direction only, down through the flesh and allowing the bones to guide the knife. Keep going, down over and around the bones for the full length of the bird, until the first breast fillet is removed. Repeat the process for the second breast fillet.
How to Serve the Roast Guinea Fowl
You should now have two roast guinea fowl breast fillets, two leg portions and two wings. The meat can be served with any accompaniments you would normally serve with chicken. Try roasting some parboiled and cooled potatoes in the guinea fowl juices for a really good accompaniment, while broccoli, carrots and peas all make excellent vegetable plating additions. You may also of course wish to make a gravy with the roasting juices and perhaps some red wine.
© 2012 Gordon N Hamilton