Friday, 7 January 2011

G is for... Guinea fowl and girolle terrine with a grapefruit salad dressed in grain mustard vinaigrette

I am not even going to try to pretend that this dish doesn't take some effort. It requires a lot of prep work, partly I'm sure because I was essentially making the recipe up as I went along, but even with the luxury of following a recipe, you should be prepared to put a bit of time and welly in. It's definitely worth it though, not only for its moist and tender texture or its herb-infused subtle game-y flavours but also for its beauty. This really is a gloriously pretty plate of food and the sharp citrus of the grape fruit, together with the gentle heat of the mustard provided a really satisfying balance of flavours.

The first stage is to confit the guinea fowl. "Confit" comes from the French "confire", meaning to preserve. Confited meats, as long as they are well covered in fat and stored in an airtight container, can be kept in the fridge for a month or probably longer. You're supposed to leave the meat in the salt and herb rub for 24 hours, but I couldn't make it to the butcher's before closing time, so I left my meat for 4 hours. Well, at least it was something...

Guinea fowl confit

3 guinea fowls
4 sprigs of thyme, chopped
2 bay leaves, chopped
3 tsp juniper berries, crushed
2 tsp white pepper
4 strips of lemon zest, chopped
8 cloves of garlic, chopped
6 oz/ 150 g sea salt
1.5 kilos of goose fat (yes I know it sounds like a scary amount, but you won't actually be eating it all in this dish. Don't panic)

Combine the salt with the herbs and aromatics and rub this mix all over the guinea fowls' skin, place in a large dish and cover, before popping them in the fridge. Ideally, leave the meat for 24 hours but if, like me, time is too short, just leave it for as long as you can. If you can't leave it for 24 hours, use the meat straight away as it won't have been preserved properly for long-keeping.

Remove the herby salt from the birds with kitchen paper or give them a quick rinse in cold water and then dry them thoroughly afterwards. Cut off the legs (this requires a large heavy knife to get through the bones). Use a heavy bottomed pan (preferably cast iron), large enough to fit all the guinea fowl pieces (including the legs) snugly in a single layer - I had to confit mine in two pans.  Take the meat back out and very gently melt the goose fat down until it is liquid, but do not allow it to boil. Add the guinea fowl and ensure that all the meat is completely covered by the fat. Cover the pan and either pop it into a preheated oven at 150 C (130 C Fan) or stick it on the hob at the lowest heat possible. Cook for about 3 hours, or until the meat is very tender - it should come away from the bone very easily and the juices should run clear. Carefully lift the meat out of the fat and place in a container. From a bit of a height, strain the fat through a fine meshed sieve into a very large jug if you have one, or I used a very large steel mixing bowl. This should allow the meat juices to separate from the fat. Carefully ladle the fat over the guinea fowl and you should be left with all the delicious meat juices at the bottom. Cover the confit and leave to cool. Once cold, the guinea fowl juices will have turned into a thick jelly. Scrape off any fat left on the top and keep the jelly for the next stage.

Roughly chop and pull all the meat from the guinea fowls and then use the bones to make a stock. I used this stock in many of the evening's dishes.

 Guinea fowl and girolle terrine

The meat from confit of 3 guinea fowls (see above)
The meat jelly reserved from the confit
Half a pint of guinea fowl stock
10 oz/ 250 g girolles, washed thoroughly of their grit
A bunch of tarragon, finely chopped
A bunch of thyme, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 small glass of ruby port (or white port if you want to keep the colour purer)
2 oz/ 50 g unsalted butter
4 leeks, trimmed, washed and sliced lengthwise
4 gelatine leaves, soaked in cold water for at least ten minutes
12 slices of cured ham (I used Serrano)
Salt and pepper

Gently cook the leeks in the butter until completely soft, then drain and set aside to cool. Add the chopped girolles to the butter and saute with the garlic until soft. Add the guinea fowl meat along with the guinea fowl jelly. Cook gently for about ten minutes, then add the port and herbs and cook for a further few minutes, season and taste - adjust the seasoning if necessary. Heat the stock in a saucepan and dissolve the gelatine in it. 

Line your terrine dish or loaf tin with clingfilm - enough so that it hangs over the sides. Line with the slices of ham, so that they overlap to cover the base and sides and hang over the edges. Place one ladle of stock in the bottom of the terrine dish. Compress a layer of the guinea fowl and girolles mixture into the dish and then moisten with more of the stock. Place a layer of the leeks on top and then repeat with more guinea fowl, then leeks, then guinea fowl and then more leeks with a final layer of guinea fowl on top, or until the terrine is filled to the brim, remembering to moisten each layer with stock. Ladle some more stock over the top and give the dish a sharp tap on the worktop, so that the stock can sink into all the gaps. Fold the ham over the top and then  fold over the clingfilm and press it down gently. 

Place the terrine on a plate to catch any of the juices and place a small baking tray on it and top the tray with something heavy - a couple of tins of beans will do.  Pop it in the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours. About an hour before serving, place the terrine in the freezer to firm up for about 10 minutes to make carving easier. Remove the terrine from its dish and wrap it tightly in more clingfilm. Carefully slice the terrine, remove the clingfilm and, using a palate knife to help you lift it, place a slice in the centre of each plate. This should be done about half an hour before serving so that the terrine isn't fridge cold when eaten.

Grapefruit salad with grain mustard vinaigrette.

for the salad

3 pink grapefruits, peeled and segmented
A mixture of lambs lettuce, watercress and rocket (or whatever you like)

for the vinaigrette

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 heaped tbsp grain mustard
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper

Mix or shake all the ingredients together and taste for seasoning, adjusting if necessary.

Place some leaves, then a segment of grapefruit, repeating in a circle around the edges of each plate. Drizzle the salad with the vinaigrette and serve. 

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