Guinea fowl with ceps
A slightly complicated dish where a stuffing of ceps is put beneath the skin of the bird and then served with seasonal Brussels sprouts and chestnuts.
There are various reasons to stuff a bird. The main reason is to add substance and flavours. Substance so that a family of six can dine on one chicken and flavour to enhance the often bland, and sometimes dry, poultry meat.
I hardly ever put a stuffing in a roasted bird.
There are also some more “noble” ways of adding a stuffing under the skin of the bird. This also adds flavour. A famous recipe of this kind is the “Poularde en demi deuil” where slices of truffle are put beneath the skin of a fattened hen so that it seems to be half in black (half in mourning as the French name says).
This recipe is accredited to a Lyon cook, Françoise Fillioux Fayolle, around the year 1900 when she ran a small restaurant in times that truffles were not as expensive as they are now (and she only used two slices per leg plus a few on the breast). Eugene Brazier and Paul Bocuse are just a few of the chefs that have perpetuated this dish where the poularde is cooked in a stock.
In many recipes for chicken stuffing, for in the cavity or under the skin, a lot of butter is being used to facilitate the placing of the stuffing and to keep the meat tender. But butter is fat.
In the past, chicken was roasted at high heat with wood fires and there are still special roasting machines with the heat on the backside (not above) the birds that turn in front of the fire.
In home kitchens, the roasting jack has disappeared from many ovens with heat circulation, although there seems to be a return of the jack in some new appliances.
I have a different approach to keeping roasted birds tender and that is a combination of moist and lemon juice. I put water at the bottom of the oven which keeps the air in the oven moist (and prevents the falling fat from burning) while a punctured lemon in the cavity also keeps the meat tender and adds some flavour. In my “chicken with lemon” I put two lemons inside.
The other trick is the heat. High heat is dryer than lower heat, but at lower heat you need a longer roasting time.
- One guinea fowl
- One lemon
- 100 grammes of dried ceps
- White bread filling (mie de pain)
- Two shallots
- 400 grammes of Brussels sprouts
- 150 grammes of chestnut, ready to use
- 20 grammes of butter
- Put the ceps in some water for at least 15 minutes.
- Clean the bird, remove any remaining feathers or hairs, pieces of fat.
- Introduce your fingers between the skin and the meat, carefully creating some space for the stuffing.
- Preheat the oven to 200 °C.
- Drain the ceps, keep the liquid, slice them in small pieces.
- Cut up the shallots.
- Melt the butter and add the ceps and shallots, fry for five minutes. Put aside.
- Clean the sprouts, put a cross-wise incision in their stem.
- Mix the ceps/shallot mixture with the bread. Add liquid (water, cream) if needed. You want a clay-like stuffing.
- Put the stuffing carefully under the skin.
- Put a punctured lemon in the cavity and tie up the bird so that the lemon does not fall out and that the legs and wings are kept at their place.
- In the oven, I put water in the roasting tin and put a hull-shaped wire rack on top on which I placed the bird.
- Put the temperature at 160 °C, start on one side, turn after 15 minutes to the other side, then the back and for the last 15 minutes with the breast upwards.
- Take the bird from the oven, cover and let stand for a while.
- Meanwhile, cook the sprouts in water or, as I did , steam them for five minutes.
- Add the chestnuts for another five minutes.
- Carve the bird. I only used the breasts and kept the rest of the bird for another day. The stuffing may fall off the breasts, just put it back when serving.
- Add some sprouts and chestnuts.