2A Guinea fowl tastes like a cross between a pheasant and a corn-fed chicken. The flavour is gamier than a chicken but milder than a pheasant so is an excellent introduction to gamier flavours for the uninitiated which makes Guinea Fowl the perfect starting point.
Originating from West Africa, this black and white speckled bird was first imported to Europe by the Portuguese in the sixteenth century. As well as being a popular meat in West Africa, French and Italian chefs can’t get enough of it, and are some of the biggest guinea fowl producers in Europe.
The birds are generally a little smaller than a chicken and their flavour is somewhere between chicken and pheasant, with a mild gamey flavour. It’s the perfect bird for you if you find cooking game tricky, but would like to give something new a try. Roast or braise in a stew or curry as you would a chicken, but make sure to adjust your timings accordingly as guinea fowls are a little smaller and generally contain half the amount of fat as a chicken, meaning they can have a tendency to dry out if not cooked with care.
What to look for when buying guinea fowl
Guinea fowl season in the UK runs from September through to February. They are readily available in larger supermarkets these days, and as with all meat, organic and free-range birds are not only more ethical but provide tastier meat. You want a bird no older than fourteen weeks – the younger the bird, the more tender it will be. Older birds should be reserved for braising to ensure the meat doesn’t dry out. One bird should feed 2–3 people, so make sure you buy enough if cooking for a crowd. Although they’re pretty uncommon, guinea fowl eggs are a wonderfully rich treat!
Here’s a great recipe that uses Guinea fowl.
One-pot roast guinea fowl
1 onion, cut into wedges, through the root
2 carrots, quartered lengthways
2 potatos, cut into bite-size chunks
1 tbsp olive oil
1 small guinea fowl (around 1kg/2lb 4oz)
3 tbsp butter at room temperature, 2 tsp for the gravy
4 smoked streaky bacon rashers
6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
few thyme sprigs
300ml chicken stock
100ml white wine
2 tsp plain flour
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly.
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Toss the vegetables with the oil and some seasoning in a large flameproof roasting tin. Place the bird on top of the veg, smear with 1 tbsp butter and lay the rashers in a row over the breast. Season generously, then roast for 40 mins.
Remove from the oven and give the veg a stir while adding the garlic and thyme. Pour 200ml stock and the wine over the veg and return to oven to roast for another 40 mins until the bird is cooked through and the juices run clear.
Remove the bird, place it on a serving plate, cover it with foil to keep it warm and leave it to rest. Turn the oven up to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and roast the veg for a further 15 mins until tender.
Remove the veg with a slotted spoon and transfer to the serving plate with the bird. Mix 2 tsp butter and flour in a small bowl to form a smooth paste. Place the roasting tin with all the cooking juices, plus any resting juices, on the hob. Whisk the paste and redcurrant jelly into the juices until dissolved, then add the remaining stock and extra seasoning, if you like. Bubble for a few mins until the sauce thickens. Slice and serve the guinea fowl, crisp bacon and the veg with the sauce on the side.