Jacob Kenedy's guinea fowl cacciatore in wine and vinegar abruzzo
This is a lovely recipe by Jacob Kenedy of Bocca di Lupo restaurant. The addition of vinegar lifts the dense earthy flavours associated with slow cooked casseroles, and using white wine instead of red also helps to achieve a lighter effect. I read somewhere that Rene Redzepi seasons with salt and acid, rather than salt and pepper, and I think I am beginning to see why.
If you cannot find guinea fowl pheasant works just as well.
Serves 3-4 as a main course
1 guinea fowl, jointed into similar sized pieces, bony bits set aside
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1 carrot, diced to the same size as the onion
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp plain flour (you can omit this, but it does help to thicken the sauce)
2 celery stalks, diced to the same size as the onion (you want roughly equal amounts of onion, carrot and celery)
3 cloves garlic, sliced
1 sprig rosemary, leaves only
80ml white wine vinegar
200ml white wine, e.g. Soave
What to do
First make your stock. Take the guinea fowl wings and other un-meaty bits such as the spine and any bony parts left over after you jointed the bird, put them in a saucepan with a tablespoon of the olive oil and brown over a medium to low heat. When the wings and bones smell tasty, add half only of the diced carrot and onion, sweat for a few minutes with the meat and then add the bay leaves and enough cold water to just cover everything. Turn the heat up to get the stock boiling and then allow it to reduce while you prepare the casserole.
Heat a heavy based pot over a medium heat for a few minutes. Meanwhile toss the jointed meat pieces in the flour. Add the rest of the oil (five tablespoons roughly) to the hot pan and add the floured meat pieces, along with some salt and pepper. The meat will stick to the pan. Keep the heat on medium and allow the meat to brown, it will then naturally release from the pan and you can turn it onto its other side. Take your time doing this - 10, 15 minutes even. If the meat darkens too quickly turn the heat down. The idea is to produce a lovely deep brown crust on the skin of the bird, and to release a rich roasted aroma. All that flavour will transfer to the finished casserole.
When the meat is a deep bronze colour and smells roasted and savoury, turn the heat down a bit and add the rest of the carrot and onion along with all the celery, garlic and rosemary. Add a bit more salt and sweat the vegetables until they soften and turn golden. Add the vinegar and the wine and scrap the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to dissolve all the dark caramel-y sediment into the wine and vinegar. Finally add your boiling stock, straining it through a sieve first. You should have enough stock to cover the meat, if not add a bit of hot water to make up the difference. Once you have just covered the meat stop pouring over stock and keep the rest aside.
Let the whole thing bubble gently for about an hour. You might want to taste the meat and make sure it doesn’t get too dry. The sauce should thicken to the consistency of double cream – add some stock if it thickens too much. Give the pan a good shake every now and then to emulsify the fat and juices in the sauce, and a final shake before you serve. The casserole is ready as soon as the slow cooked meat is tender.
A big pile of buttery mash is a lovely accompaniment. We also pan fried thick slices of fennel and quince in butter and olive oil with plenty of rosemary and thyme, adding a glass of cider when the vegetables were browned and allowing the liquid to reduce into a glossy syrup.