FARAONA ALLA MIA MANIERA | guinea fowl my way
Guinea fowl, rather delicate birds, delicate in flavour, somewhere between a chicken and a pheasant, with speckled plumage and snake-skin legs (the origin of birds is reptilian), are as common in Italian poulterers as they were in Victorian England. But they are not often interesting served in trattorie. I propose the following anarchic method: carry it out before protesting.
Make an infusion of the juice of 2 lemons, a dessertspoon of sugar, plenty of ground black pepper, the zest of 1 lemon and a small wineglass of water, by boiling it up for a few minutes. Take it off the fire, add 3 liqueur glasses of grappa stravecchia and if you are anticipating a cold – I am writing this in winter – drink some of it hot. Leave what remains to infuse.
1 guinea fowl weighing just over a kilo (2 1/4 lb)
a small handful of pine kernels
4 unpeeled garlic cloves, slightly crushed
a sprig of rosemary
5 tablespoons of olive oil
a tumbler of Bardolino or Valpolicella
what is left of the grog
Take your guinea fowl, lay it on a stout board, chop off its head, sever the neck and reptilian feet, and make a tiny anal incision. Draw out the intestines, liver, gizzard, heart, then empty the crop. Dip the feet in boiling water, skin them and use for stock. Put some pine kernels inside the bird, a garlic clove and the sprig of rosemary. Tie the legs neatly against the carcase, tie in the wings, apply some salt.
Heat the oil and brown the object in a frying pan with the remaining crushed garlic cloves. Transfer to a heavy, lidded pot which just contains the bird. Rinse out the frying pan with the tumbler of red wine, heating it, and pour it into the pot. Heat and add what is left of the grog. Proceed with the cooking on top of the stove on a wire mat in a careful manner, basting from time to time and between whiles weighting down the lid, for 30 to 40 minutes.
Excerpted from Honey From a Weed by Patience Gray. Copyright 2001, Prospect Books.
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