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

Roulade of Pheasant with Mushrooms and Steamed White Cabbage

A Challenging Bird

Pheasant is not the simplest bird to prepare. It is too big to take the approach we prefer for partridge and it’s too low in fat to create a Faisan Rôti. The choice is between applying bacon on the outside and stuffing the bird. Both are not among our favourites: the bacon will overwhelm the taste of the pheasant and an old fashioned stuffing with chestnut, sausage meat, butter and onions is simply too much for us: we prefer a light, tasty cuisine. Our approach is to make a small roulade using the breast of pheasant. This is probably the driest part of the bird, but combining the meat with mushrooms will make it tender and moist. The mushrooms and thyme in the roulade support the delicate game-taste of the pheasant, making it into a most enjoyable dish for November and December.
Duxelles is an essential element of a Beef Wellington. We make a variation by using mushrooms, butter and thyme only. We don’t want the mushrooms too finely chopped, see picture, but feel free to give it more of a duxelles texture.
The right internal temperature for pheasant is between 60° and 65° Celsius (between 140° and 150° Fahrenheit). Best is to set your meat thermometer to 60° Celsius and allow the roulade to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. This way the meat will be lovely pink.

Wine Pairing

Both red and white are possible. The wine should not be too powerful, given the delicate taste of the pheasant. If you go for white, then Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc are a good choice. Given the white cabbage with cumin Riesling is also a nice idea. If red, then we would suggest a Beaujolais or a Pinot Noir.

What You Need

  • 2 Fillets of Pheasant
  • For the Duxelles
    • 150 grams of (Chestnut) Button Mushrooms
    • 50 grams of Porcini
    • Thyme
    • Butter
    • Black Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Crème Fraiche
  • Mustard
  • Chicken stock
  • For the Vegetables
    • White cabbage
    • Cumin
    • Excellent Olive oil

What You Do

Clean and chop the mushrooms and add to a warm pan with butter. The idea is to reduce the volume of the mushrooms but not to fry them. This may take 20 minutes. Halfway add the thyme. Take two sheet of foil and put one below a fillet and one on top. The former skin side of the breast should be visible. We use a small bottle to flatten the fillet. This does not require a lot of strength and be careful not to create holes in the meat. You’re looking for doubling the size, so not as thin as the veal for a Wiener Schnitzel or a Scaloppini a la Milanese. Now figure out how to combine the two flattened fillets, making sure you have some overlap. Spread the mushrooms on top, roll it up and create the roulade. Wrap it in foil and transfer to the refrigerator, allowing for the flavours to integrate and the roulade to set.
Heat your oven to 120° Celsius (250° Fahrenheit). Warm a heavy iron pan, add some olive oil and gently colour the roulade. Then transfer to the oven, add some butter and wait until the centre has reached 60° Celsius. When the roulade is ready, wrap it in aluminium foil and let it rest. Make a sauce of the cooking juices, mustard, crème fraiche and perhaps some chicken stock. Steam the cabbage for five minutes, add excellent olive oil and crushed cumin seeds and mix. Add the sauce to a warm plate, slice the roulade and serve with the cabbage.