Guineafowl with Ras el Hanout

Preparing guineafowl can be a bit of a challenge: easily overcooked and quickly dry. Guineafowl has more structure and less fat compared to chicken plus it’s much firmer. The good news is that guineafowl has lots of flavour, perhaps a bit gamey, but not overpowering. So great to combine with nice ingredients such as morels or with grappa, junipers, sage, white wine and pancetta (as included in The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook, written by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers).

Ras el Hanout is a mix of some twenty plus spices such as coriander, cumin, cinnamon, nutmeg, fenugreek, fennel, cardamom, turmeric and many more. Ras el Hanout is complex, layered, warm, a touch sweet and bitter. It works beautifully with the guineafowl and the various vegetables. 

Wine Pairing

Enjoy your guineafowl with a not too complex, medium bodied, fruity red wine. Grapes such as Grenache, Carménère, Carignan. We enjoyed a glass of Merlot, produced by Les Ormes de Cambras from the French Pays d’Oc region. A round, fruity wine with aromas of berries and subtle tannins. Also available as Bag in Box!

What You Need

  • Guineafowl
    • Guineafowl (Supreme preferred, but Leg is also fine)
    • Teaspoon of Ras el Hanout
    • 2 Garlic Gloves
    • Olive Oil
    • White Onion or Shallot
  • Vegetables
    • 1 Sweet Potato
    • 1 Carrot
    • Cinnamon
    • Olive oil
    • Teaspoon of Soy Sauce
  • Ratatouille

What You Do

Crush the two garlic gloves and mix with some olive oil and ras el hanout. Rub the meat with the mixture and leave to marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 ˚C or 355 ˚F. Add the two legs of guineafowl to a shallow dish with generous olive oil and chopped onion. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn the legs upside down and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn them a second time, skin up, for 10 more minutes. If you want a bit more colour, then set the oven to 200 ˚C or 390 ˚F.
In parallel peel the potato and the carrot. Dice and slice. Cook separately (the carrot needs more time) until tender but firm. Combine the vegetables, add olive oil, a teaspoon of grated cinnamon and a teaspoon of soy sauce. Mix well, making sure the vegetables are nicely coated. Leave on very low heat for 10 minutes. This will help integrate the flavours. (You wonder why we add soy sauce? Its umami will bring the flavours of the potato and the carrot together plus the saltiness will give the dish the required push. And because it’s one teaspoon only, you will not be able to recognise it).
The ratatouille is optional. Make it the day before, with relatively small slices and cubes of vegetables, add some tomato puree, making it nearly paste like.

Guineafowl with Ras el Hanout ©cadwu
Guineafowl with Ras el Hanout ©cadwu

Guineafowl with Morels and Gnocchi

Preparing guineafowl can be a bit of a challenge because it’s easily overcooked. Guineafowl requires some liquid (oil, butter, wine, stock) when cooking it, but not too much. It’s actually not at all like chicken; just compare the meat and notice the difference. Guineafowl is structured, meaty, dense. Cooking guineafowl as coq au vin doesn’t work. Grilled guineafowl? Not a good idea either.

In The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook (written by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers) you will find a great recipe of guineafowl with grappa, junipers, sage, white wine and pancetta. The combination of grappa and junipers is amazing and the idea to have these two support the guineafowl is simply stunning. The combination emphasises the wild and nutty taste of the guinegowl. Buy the book and start cooking!

Spring is the best season to prepare this dish, because morels are a spring mushroom. You could use dried morels; they can be as tasty as fresh ones. Other dried mushrooms are expensive, not very tasty and not even close to the real thing. Dried morels are the exception to the rule.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our guineafowl with a glass of an elegant, medium-bodied red wine, with aromas and flavours of red fruit. A wine made from gamay grapes will be a good choice, for instance Domaine La Tour Beaumont Val de Loire.

What You Need

  • 2 legs of Guineafowl
  • 50 gram of fresh Morels or 10 gram of dried Morels
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Chicken Stock
  • Mustard
  • Crème Fraîche
  • Black Pepper
  • Gnocchi

What You Do

Pre-heat the oven to 180˚Celsius or 355˚ Fahrenheit. Add the two legs of guineafowl to a shallow dish with butter and olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes. If using dried morels: soak in hot water for 15 minutes. Otherwise clean the morels with some kitchen paper. Turn the legs upside down after 10 minutes. Cook for another 10 minutes. Turn them a second time, skin up. Add the morels to the dish, leaving the skin free. The legs should be ready after in total 30 minutes. Transfer the guineafowl and the morels to a plate and keep warm. Add chicken stock to the cooking liquid. Add crème fraîche, mustard and pepper to the sauce, stir well and allow to warm through and through for 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and if necessary add more mustard.
Serve with gnocchi. (Yes of course, we will be happy to explain how to make gnocchi in the near future.)

  • Guineafowl with Morels and Gnocchi © cadwu
  • Soaked Morels © cadwu
  • Guineafowl © cadwu

Chicken with Morels and Very Classic Béchamel Sauce

One of the most delicious aspects of spring: fresh morels. They combine really well with asparagus, calves’ kidneys and chicken.
Jane Grigson offers two recipes for morels and chicken in her classic The Mushroom Feast, but her recipe for Flan with Morels à la Crème genuinely inspired us. It combines pastry with Mornay sauce and morels.
Mornay sauce is a béchamel sauce with grated, hard cheese (preferably Gruyère). Very old fashioned of course and a modern chef will not touch it. Which is a pity, because béchamel sauce is worth exploring.
One of the more intriguing stories is that the sauce was created by Marquis Louis de Béchameil who served at the court of Louis XIV at Versailles. It’s probably more realistic to think that chef François Pierre de la Varenne created it in the 17th century. He would have made a white stock (veal or chicken and lots of herbs) and used egg yolks and flower to get the right consistency. Many years later Antonin Carême described the use of a roux and added not only egg yolks but also cream. It was Auguste Escoffier who changed the recipe and created the béchamel sauce as we know it today.
The béchamel sauce as it was made by Antonin Carême is rich, velvety and full of flavours. Let’s pay tribute to the great Carême and cook his version of this sauce! 

Wine Pairing

The wine needs to accompany the subtle sweetness in the sauce and the nuttiness, umami, pancake-like taste of the morels. We suggest a fruity, well balanced, red wine, for instance a French Merlot, a Spanish Bobal, a Zinfandel or a Gamay.

What You Need

  • Chicken Breast with the skin on
  • Sauce
    • Carrot
    • Onion
    • Stems of the Morels
    • Butter
    • Flour
    • Egg yolk
    • Cream
  • Morels
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • White Pepper

What You Do

Chop 5 centimetre of carrot, one small shallot and the stems of the morels. Melt butter in a pan and let the ingredients become tender. Add flour (same quantity as the butter), combine and warm well, without colouring the mixture; let’s say 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bit by bit and create the interim sauce (the velouté). Keep it warm for at least 15 minutes because this will improve the taste and the consistency. Half an hour is better.
In parallel clean the morels and slice lengthwise in 2 or 4. Add to a pan with butter and warm for 10 minutes or more.
Also in parallel fry the chicken in olive oil. This may take 15-20 minutes.
When the chicken is nearly ready, put the morels on a sheet of kitchen paper and keep warm in the oven. Feel free to add some of the cooking liquid to the sauce. Pass the interim sauce through a sieve. In a glass bowl whisk together a tablespoon of cream and the egg yolk until smooth. Slowly add the warm sauce into the mixture of egg and cream, whisking constantly. When this is done, transfer the sauce back to a clean pan and warm the sauce until it starts to thicken. Be careful because otherwise the sauce will curdle. Taste the sauce and add white pepper. Warm it through and through. Slice the chicken.
Serve the chicken with the sauce and the morels on a hot plate.

  • Chicken with Morels and Béchamel Sauce ©cadwu
  • Fresh Morels ©cadwu

White Asparagus with Ramson (or Wild Garlic) and Morels

Ramson, Wild Garlic, Daslook, Bear Leek, Ail des Ours, Bärlauch

So many names for this great plant: Allium ursinum is one of the highlights of spring. Powerful, pure and tasty. Some say you should only eat the leaves before the plant starts to bloom. But then you can’t combine the leaves and the tasty white flowers in your dish, so we suggest ignoring that idea. The flowers are (if you’re lucky) just a touch sweet because of the nectar. It can be harvested from the wild, but some garden centers also sell ramson.
The taste is a combination of onion and garlic, but much greener, longer lasting and with a touch of bitterness at the end. You can turn the leaves into a strong pesto, but better use it as herb with for instance potatoes or gnocchi. See our recipe for Farfalle with Ramson (or Wild Garlic) and Parmesan Cheese.

Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler included two recipes in their classic book Mushrooms (published by Kyle Books and still available via for instance Amazon and other channels). One is a combination of Cod, Trompette des Morts (Black Trumpet) and Ramson. The other one is an intriguing combination of white Asparagus, Morels and Ramson.

Wine pairing

We suggest a full-bodied white wine with a fine acidity. For instance Herdade São Miguel, Colheita Seleccionada. The wine comes with distinctive minerals, along with excellent harmony and a long and well-balanced finish. It works well with the slight bitterness and sweetness of the asparagus; the gently onion and garlic taste of the ramson and the pancake-like taste of the morels.

What You Need

  • 6 White Asparagus
  • Morels (but even dried porcini will work)
  • Ramson
  • Chicken Stock
  • Crème Fraîche
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • Shallot
  • Mushrooms by Johnny Acton and Nick Sandler

 

Veal Rib Eye with Morels

Morels or Not?

In January 2019 one person died and over 30 people became ill after having eaten at Riff, the one Michelin star restaurant in Valencia. Media were quick in their analysis and decided that it was caused by the morels in one of the dishes. Today (April 4th) it’s not yet clear what caused the catastrophe.

Most sources mention that Morels contain some kind of toxin, one that can be destroyed by heating the morels. So lesson one with morels is not to eat them raw; they must be sautéed for a few minutes. Luckily the taste improves when sautéing them a bit longer, let’s say 10 minutes, so the toxin should be gone by then. However… some people report an upset stomach after having eaten morels and drinking alcohol. If you’re not used to eating morels, it could be wise to eat just a few and see how you react.

Look-A-Likes

A clear risk with morels is the fact that some other mushrooms are true look-a-likes. For example the highly toxic early morel or wrinkled thimble-cap and other ‘false’ morels. So picking them yourself is not a good idea unless you are an experienced morel-hunter. If you buy them (like we do), then buy them fresh or dried from a reliable source.

China

Some media mentioned that the morels used at Riff were brought in from China. Is that a problem? Yes from a sustainability point of view and No from a morel point of view. Morels are found in abundance in North America, Australia, China, Poland, France, India, Pakistan and many other countries, so why distrust them when they originate from China?

Back to Riff

Our humble view is that morels are in the mushroom top three together with Cèpes and Truffle. We are perfectly happy to eat them, for instance combined with Veal. And we look forward to having dinner at Riff when we are in Valencia later this year.

Wine Pairing

We prefer a full-bodied red wine, for instance a Nero d’Avola. We enjoyed a glass of Vanitá Nero d’Avola Organico Terre Siciliane I.G.T. 2016. It goes very well with the rich flavours of the veal and the morels. The wine comes with raspberries, red fruits and just a touch of vanilla. It has medium sweetness and a hint of herbs and spices, almost cinnamon. A long aftertaste and light tannins.

What You Need

  • Rib Eye of Veal
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Morels
  • Veal stock
  • Spinach

What You Do

Fry the Rib Eye in a heavy iron skillet for a few minutes until (very) pink. Wrap in aluminium foil and allow to rest. Reduce the heat and if necessary add some extra butter to the pan. Add the cleaned and halved morels and sauté gently. Add some veal stock and juices from the rib eye. In a small pan heat some olive oil, add the dry spinach and stir constantly. Serve the rib eye with the sauce, the morels and the spinach. Spring on your plate!

Guineafowl with Morels and Gnocchi

Guineafowl

Preparing guineafowl can be a bit of a challenge. Easily overcooked and easily prepared the wrong way. Given its size you could think it should be prepared like chicken but that’s not the case. Compare chicken with guineafowl and notice the difference: the meat of a guineafowl has much more structure, it’s fatter and firmer.
Cooking quineafowl requires some liquid (oil, butter, wine, stock) but not too much. Cooked like coq au vin it’s a disaster. Spit-roasted guineafowl? Not a good idea.

In The River Cafe Classic Italian Cookbook (written by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers) you will find a great recipe of guineafowl with grappa, junipers, white wine and pancetta. The combination of grappa and junipers is amazing and the idea to have these two support the guinea fowl is simply stunning. The combination emphasises the wild and nutty taste of the guinegowl. Buy the book and start cooking!

Dried mushrooms: expensive and actually not very tasty. Not even close to the real thing. With the exception of dried morels: these are as tasty as fresh ones.
Also important: unlike most mushrooms, morels are to be found (and bought) in Spring. So the best season to cook this dish is in Spring, but given dried morels are equally tasty, it doesn’t really matter.

Wine Pairing

We enjoyed our guineafowl with a glass of Bergerac, La Vaure, 2015. This is a full-bodied wine with a hint of oak, red fruits and great flavours overall. Made from Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. A mature Bergerac with a lasting taste.

What You Need

  • 2 legs of Guineafowl
  • 10 gram of dried Morels
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Chicken Stock
  • Mustard
  • Cream
  • Black Pepper
  • Gnocchi

What You Do

Pre-heat the oven to 180 ˚Celsius. Add the two legs of guinea fowl to a shallow dish with butter and olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes. In the mean time add the morels to hot water. Soak for 15 minutes. Turn the legs upside down after 10 minutes. Cook for another 10 minutes. Turn them a second time, skin up. Add the morels to the dish, leaving the skin free. In parallel start preparing the sauce using chicken stock and some morel-water, but not too much. Taste the water before adding. The legs should be ready after 30 minutes. Add the cooking juices to the sauce, grill the legs quickly if the skin is not yet nicely coloured and keep the morels warm. Add mustard and pepper to the sauce, stir well, add some cream and allow to heat through and through for 5 minutes. Taste the sauce and if necessary add more mustard or morel-water.
Serve with gnocchi.