About Guineafow, Plus Two Great Recipes
Guineafowl has become a mainstay in UK pubs. Guineafowl are native to Africa but, in the UK, the Helmeted Guineafowl, has long been domesticated. The bird is similar to the partridge, another popular game bird, but is distinguishable by its featherless head and black crest. The Vulturine Guineafowl is distinguished by a downy brown patch on the nape of the neck. Most breeds of Guineafowl are identifiable by their dark grey or blackish plumage that contains striking white spots.
In the UK the larger species, like the Plumed Guineafowl are rare. They are about 40-71 cm in length and weight between 700 and 1,000 grams, bigger than the typical Helmeted Guineafowl.
Most guineafowl are monogamous for life but the Helmeted Guineafowl are the exception to this rule. In the UK, these birds are called “gleanies.” Newly born guineafowl are called “keets” and are very small at birth.
Domesticated keets are generally kept in brooder boxes as soon as they are born. At six weeks, they are permitted to join the community. Guineafowl are social and tend to thrive in communities. In their natural habitat, guineafowl eat insects, lice, ants, spiders, weedseeds and ticks. Chicken layer crumbles is the feed of choice for domesticated guineafowl.
Cooked guineafowl has a texture similar to that of a chicken. The flavour is usually described as a cross between chicken and pheasant. Connoisseurs know the guineafowl to be juicier and more tender than either the chicken or the pheasant. Guineafowl is dark meat so it has the fuller, rich taste of other dark meats. Cooked properly, the flesh of the guineafowl is moist and savoury.
As a game bird, guineafowl is great in red wine and chestnuts. Like most game birds, frequent basting is recommended. Older guineafowl are excellent in casseroles as the bird retains its moisture better. The younger birds are naturally more tasty and are preferred for non-casserole recipes.
Helmeted guineafowl in the UK can now be purchased as “intensely reared” or as free range fowl in certain supermarkets. Most chefs believe guineafowl can accommodate any of the many chicken recipes. In its truest form, chestnuts, apples, herbs, bacon, cider or brandy are the most popular flavourings for helmeted guineafowl. UK pubs have developed their own recipes.
Special Guineafowl Recipe
The BBC recently posted this recipe for a memorable guineafowl meal. Guineafowl is described by the BBC as lean and healthy with excellent flavour. This recipe for four includes a tangy sauce and is pretty easy to bring together;
- 4 guinea fowl breasts – young breasts have more flavour
- 1 tablespoon corn oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 15 grams of butter
- 2 shallots, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon raspberry vinegar
- 4 tablespoons Madeira or medium sherry
- 1 teaspoon caster sugar
- 175g (6 oz) redcurrants, stems removed
- Redcurrant sprigs to garnish
Chefs should allow about 10 minutes preparation time. Cook for 30 minutes and serve in 40. A nice red wine will be the perfect compliment.
- Heat the grill to medium-hot.
- Brush the guineafowl breasts with oil.
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Grill between 12 and 15 minutes, turning the breast once.
- Wait until the bird is golden brown and cooked through.
- While the breasts are cooking, heat the butter in a small, heavy based frying pan.
- Add shallots.
- Cook over medium-low flame for five or six minutes.
- While cooking, stir in Madeira or sherry.
- Add redcurrants and sugar.
- Let simmer for eight to ten minutes until redcurrants are soft and the liquid is syrupy.
- If desired, remove the skin from the guineafowl.
- Place a breast on each plate.
- Carefully spoon the sauce over the breasts.
- Top each breast with redcurrant sprigs.
- For a delicious, traditional guineafowl entrée, serve with red cabbage and baked potatoes.
For those special dinners when you have the time to prepare an unforgettable delicacy, try this guineafowl pudding recipe for four. You will need about 1 hour 30 minutes of prep time and 40 minutes of cook time. This recipe features guineafowl cooked with shallots, chestnut mushrooms, peas and spinach in Madeira wine and makes a pie filing that is rich in flavour.
This traditional fare includes a soft-textured potato pastry crust and is usually served with Brussels sprouts and baby carrots.
- 1 recipe potato pastry with 1 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon added, chilled for 30 minutes
- Guinea fowl filling
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 250 grams small shallots, peeled and left whole
- 400 grams skinless boneless guinea fowl breast fillets, cubed
- 250 grams chestnut mushrooms, halved
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 90 ml Madeira
- 150 ml well-flavoured chicken stock
- 2 tablespoon corn flour
- 85 grams frozen petit poi
- 100 gram baby spinach leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
- Salt and pepper
- Place the potatoes pastry dough on a large piece of cling film.
- Using your hands, press out the dough to make a round that is slightly larger than the top of a 1.4 litre pudding basin.
- Lay another sheet of cling film on top and roll up the dough round.
- Chill while making the filling.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
- Cover and cook gently for 8–10 minutes until the shallots are lightly browned all over.
- Shake the pan occasionally.
- Add the guinea fowl to the pan.
- Increase the heat to moderate and cook uncovered for 3–4 minutes or until the cubes are no longer pink on the outside.
- Stir for even cooking.
- Add the mushrooms and garlic.
- Pour in the Madeira and stock.
- Bring to boil.
- Reduce heat, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C.
- Blend the corn flour with 2 tablespoons cold water to make a paste.
- Add to the pan and cook gently, stirring, until the liquid has thickened.
- Add the petit pois, spinach and tarragon, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir for a few more seconds or until the spinach has wilted.
- Spoon the mixture into the pudding basin.
- Unwrap the potato pastry round and place it over the top of the pudding basin.
- Press the edges onto the rim of the basin, pinching them well to seal.
- Make a hole in the middle so that steam can escape.
- Set the basin on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
- Serve immediately.
Enjoy your guinea fowl!!