I have never de-boned a guinea fowl before and half way through the process, I was beginning to wish I’d never started.But for all the fiddly effort, it really was worth it. The flesh tasted like a cross between chicken and pheasant, and the skin crisped up beautifully.
But the real benefit of the de-boning exercise was the way the bag-like skin held the mascarpone-stuffed Parma ham parcels. This was a Saturday night stunner and one of the best dishes I’ve ever cooked – so thank you to Theo Randall for the inspiration from this video. I just wish he’d included a masterclass on de-boning the bird!!
1 guinea fowl, with all its bones removed (see below)
For the stuffing
1 tub mascarpone cheese
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of half lemon
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, ground to a paste with a pinch of coarse sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
4-6 slices of Parma ham
For the base
2 slices Sour Dough bread
1 can borlotti beans
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of salt and pepper
1. De-bone the guinea fowl. With a very sharp knife, remove the wing tips, then lay the bird breast-side down on a chopping board and flatten with the palm of your hand. Use the knife to slice through the skin along the backbone, then very carefully and surgically, use the tip of the knife to follow the line of the rib cage around, slicing back the flesh as you go. When you reach the ball and socket joints of the legs and wings, slice through at the weakest point. Pull the rib-cage and backbone out of the flesh-and-skin package, taking great care not to pierce the skin. When you come to the legs, work within the skin and slice the flesh away from the bones, then remove the leg, as if you were pulling your arm out of the sleeve of a jumper. When you have removed all of the bone. Turn the bird flesh-side up in readiness for stuffing.
2. To make the stuffing, mix all the ingredients together to a thick paste. Lay the ham slices out on a work surface, then place a dollop of the cheese stuffing onto each slice. Wrap into a parcel. Now use your fingers to prise the breast meat, and then thigh meat, away from the skin to create pockets, again, taking great care not to pierce the skin. Carefully a cheese/ham parcel into the pockets you’ve created, and pull the flesh back over the parcel to seal.
3. To cook. Use a very sharp knife to cut the stuffed guinea fowl into two halves, comprising a breast and thigh per half. Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 5. Then add a little oil to a large frying pan. Cook the bird skin-side down for around 5 mins until the skin is crispy, then transfer to the oven for 10 mins, until the meat is cooked through. Drain the borlotti beans and heat in a saucepan, with the seasoning and thyme, then roughly mash. Remove the guinea fowl from the oven. Lay the sour dough bread on two plates and pour the juices from the bird over the bread, then pile the mashed beans on top, followed by the cooked guinea fowl. Serve with radicchio salad leaves, if you’d like, or just eat as it is. Absolute Heaven on a plate!