Guinea fowl are a wonderful farm-raised poultry redolent of fall game. Lean and flavourful, they respond especially to this fast roasting method. By cutting the bird in quarters and laying them flat in a shallow roasting pan, the thighs and breast benefit from even cooking times. The simple rosemary- armagnac glaze is ‘adjusted’ by a dash of orange juice, but a splash of vinegar or wine would do just as well. Note for New Zealand cooks: Easterbrook Farms grow guinea fowl. You will need to order from your butcher. If you are unable to obtain one, simply use a good free-range chicken.
1 whole guinea fowl (my birds were approx 1.5-2 kilos, reduce cooking time if smaller), quartered
200 ml armagnac or brandy
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
fresh rosemary, several branches (reserve one for glaze)
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons sugar
125 ml water
2-3 tablespoons of orange juice
Preheat the oven to 240°C.
Reserving half of the armagnac, rub the guinea fowl quarters with 100 ml of armagnac. Generously salt and pepper both sides and place skin-side up in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck several sprigs of rosemary in and around the fowl. Roast for 45 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 80°C.
While the fowl is roasting, prepare the glaze. Place the sugar and water in a small sauce pan, stir and bring to a boil until dissolved. Add the remaining armagnac and continue to reduce. Finely chop the reserved rosemary leaves and add with the bay leaf to the glaze. Cook for 3-5 minutes until reduced by half. Now, add the orange juice, a tablespoon at a time to taste, until you balance the sweetness. When the guinea fowl are cooked, remove from the oven and brush or pour the glaze over the pieces and return to the hot oven for 5 minutes.
Remove and transfer to a platter, or, as I did, serve over a bed of braised Savoy cabbage so that the tender cabbage absorbs any fragrant juices from the guinea fowl. Serves 4