So it’s September, huh? The summer is behind us and there’s a just a hint nip in the air. I don’t mourn the passing of the summer (it was a good one), instead I am looking forward to long socks and oversized sweaters, hibernating at home and lingering over comfort food, glass of wine in hand.
While there’s nothing more comforting than a roast dinner I have become immune to the charms of roast chicken after routinely serving it to my children over and over and over again. This recipe uses the much tastier guinea fowl which is, technically, a domesticated game bird and usually available year-round in large supermarkets and at the butcher.
Guinea fowl are quite small so this recipe serves 2 - maybe 3 at a pinch. To keep the bird moist cover with several strips of pancetta. The kale in the sauce is optional – I like the texture but I know it is a love-it-or-hate-it ingredient – if you are not a fan simply leave it out.
For the mushroom sauce
For the blackberries
Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a small tray with foil.
Rinse the bird with cold water and pat dry using kitchen towel.
Season inside and out with salt and pepper then rub with the butter.
Drape the pancetta over the breasts and legs.
Put the thyme sprigs and lemon in the cavity. Roast for an hour and 20 minutes or until the juices run clear.
Rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Remove the tough centre stalk from the kale and roughly chop the leaves. Blanch the kale in boiling water for 2 minutes then rinse under plenty of cold water. Set aside.
Clean the mushrooms and slice in half or leave whole (depending on size). Heat 1 tbsp of butter in a large frying pan then fry the mushrooms, in batches if necessary, over high heat until just softened. Set aside.
Heat the remaining butter and fry the shallots over low heat until soft. This can take up to 10 minutes.
Add the kale, garlic, thyme and bay leaf and stir for a couple of minutes.
Add the wine and cook until reduced by half.
Stir in the cream and lemon juice, add the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes until sauce is slightly reduced.
Sprinkle with the chopped parsley and check the seasoning.
Put the blackberries in a small pan together with some sugar (if they are very tart) and two tbsp water.
Cook over medium-high heat until the berries start to soften, 3-4 minutes.
Serve the carved bird together with the mushroom sauce and a small amount of the blackberries. Add a green salad or some potatoes to round off the meal.
Note: the pancetta will become dry and crisp during the roasting. You can crumple it up and add it to the mushroom sauce or just eat it when no one’s looking. I won’t tell.