What a weekend it has been! We (my brothers, their other halves and I) have just celebrated Christmas up in Yorkshire as we are all heading in different directions this year. Over the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of discussion over what we are going to eat. I mentioned to my brothers that I fancied trying to recreate a meal I had recently had at a school friend’s wedding breakfast (pheasant with a Moroccan stuffing).
After deliberating about how I was going to approach re-creating this dish for a Christmas feast – the suggestion I put to my brothers was Guinea fowl with a Moroccan style stuffing and dried fruits, wrapped in streaky bacon. The idea was well received until they heard that I was planning on deboning and rolling the bird which was met with much consternation. Their concerns revolved around:
- The fact I had never deboned a chicken let alone a Guinea fowl before.
- How much meat there would be left on the carcass?
- How long this meal would take to prepare as they wanted to eat at some point over the weekend.
- How many birds was I intending to do and was I sure that there would be enough to eat!?
I tried to quash their concerns by telling them that I had done a lot of research, watched a lot of YouTube videos and felt confident that I knew what to do. In relation to timings, well we weren’t going to eat until the evening so even if deboning the Guinea fowl took an hour each we would still be able to eat around 7.30/8pm. And finally yes there would be enough to eat (I had ordered two Guinea fowl and just shy of 1kg of pork stuffing meat) I felt underfeeding was not going to be an issue.
I am pleased to report that in the end the meal was not only a success but that we had leftovers! It may have taken me roughly 45 minutes to debone each bird but it was worth it. I couldn’t have been happier with you the meal turned and even better today we were able to enjoy some pretty yummy sandwiches for lunch before we all headed home.
The Moroccan flavoured stuffing with the dried fruits kept the guinea fowl meat wonderfully moist. The spices were subtle and did not overpower the Guinea fowl. The dried fruits added just enough sweetness and gave the stuffing a slightly tangy flavour and finally the pistachio added a pleasant texture.
If you don’t wish to go to the efforts of deboning a Guinea fowl then just make the meat into stuffing balls instead and cook the Guinea fowl (or chicken if you prefer to choose a slightly cheaper meat) and stuffing separately.
So the big question, would I make it again? Without a doubt! However, I would stress that this is a meal for special occasions given the time it takes to prepare but it is absolutely worth the effort! Good luck and enjoy!
Rolled Guinea fowl with Moroccan stuffing (serves 10)
- 2 Guinea fowl (c.1.25 kg in weight)
- 16 slices streaky bacon
- 900g seasoned pork stuffing meat
- 3 red onions (finely diced)
- 100g apricots (diced)
- 100g dried cranberries
- 175g pistachios (shelled)
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp tarragon
- 1/2 tsp sage
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ginger
1. Place the onions in a sauté pan with a little oil, cover with a lid and sweat on a low heat until soft. (Do not rush this process as you do not want the onions to catch and burn).
2. Place the apricots, cranberries, pistachios, breadcrumbs and spices in a large glass bowl and mix together thoroughly.
3. Once the onions are soft and have cooled slightly add to the mix with the pork meat. Use your hands mix together all of the ingredients making sure that the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the stuffing. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge whilst you prepare the Guinea fowl.
4. Debone your Guinea fowl. (I would strongly encourage you watch a video demonstrating how to do this). The method I used is as follows:
- Make sure your boning knife is very sharp and if necessary sharpen your knife before starting. Make sure that you have a clean tea towel to hand before starting.
- Start by removing the Parsons nose.
- Remove the wishbone, being careful not to snap it off. If you do snap it off by mistake, you’ll need to remember to remove the splinters of bone at the end.
- Next move on to the wings, if you imagine the wing to be an arm at the ‘elbow joint’ remove the lower section of the wing so that you are left with just the top section of the wing.
- Turning to the legs, at the knuckle carefully slice through the skin. Then holding the chicken leg in the tea towel pull the knuckle off – the reason you do it this way is so that you remove some of the sinew. If you are not strong enough don’t worry, just cut the knuckle off at the joint.
- Next place your Guinea fowl breast side down on your chopping board. Cut straight down the centre of the back of the bird from head to tail.
- Working on one side at a time (my preference is to do the left side first), slowly and carefully starting at the head and working down the bird cut the meat away staying as close to the bone as possible and making sure that you remove as much of the meat as possible.
- When you get to the wings and legs cut through at the joint to enable you to continue working down the length of the carcass until you get to the bottom.
- Repeat the process on the other side.
- When you get to the point that the bird is only attached to the carcass by the backbone, using your finger to avoid tearing the skin run you finger between the backbone and flesh to remove the carcass.
- Next tunnel bone your wings, pulling the bone out at the end to turn your wing inside out. The reason you do this is so that you have no holes in the skin once you have finished deboning the Guinea fowl.
- Repeat the same process with the legs. Once the legs are inside out remove as much of the sinew as you can. Once you have completed this you will have a deboned Guinea fowl ready to stuff and roll.
Note: Remember to use all the bones and trimmings to make stock which will form the base of your gravy.
5. Once you have deboned both of the birds you can prepare them for cooking. Split your prepared stuffing in two and shape into cylinders. Then place the stuffing in the centre of the birds where the carcass would have been. (Don’t worry if you have too much stuffing to go in the middle as you can shape it in to small balls and cook as separate stuffing to serve with it).
6. Next fold over the skin so that it overlaps slightly and then wrap the rolled guinea fowl with streaky bacon.
7. Next tie your joint with some cooking string to hold it together whilst cooking. The best knots to use are a slip knot followed by an overhand knot (aka a Butchers knot). Don’t worry if you find this too difficult just tie a knot that will hold the meat securely.
8. Place the meat in a lightly oiled roasting tray and cook at 180C Fan/ Gas mark 6 for 1hr 15mins -1hr 45 mins. To test that your birds are ready insert a meat thermometer into the centre of the joint, if it reads over 65C they will be cooked through.
9. Once cooked remove from the oven, wrap both joints in tin foil and leave to rest for 20 minutes before carving.
10. Serve with roast potatoes, seasonal vegetables and don’t forget the gravy.