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Monday, August 22, 2011

guinea fowl with brie and apple stuffing

Guinea fowl is as versatile as chicken but with a true gamey flavour and makes a delicious though slightly more expensive alternative. The following recipe, if served cold, extends the yield thus giving better value for money. I love guinea fowl in any shape or form but this dish is particularly tasty with the combination of brie and apple. Both are very noticeable in the finished dish and compliment the gamey flavour beautifully.

Oven: 180C
Serves 4 hot, 8 cold

1 x 2kg guinea fowl

Bone the bird completely without tearing or breaking the flesh. Marinate the boned bird for 24 hours in the following mixture:

8 crushed juniper berries,
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
handful of thyme leaves, no sprigs
sea salt to season
black pepper, ground
Marinate for 24 hours.

For the stuffing:

500g pork and veal mincemeat
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 apple, chopped
1 egg
200g fresh brie, cut into cubes
4 slices of crustless white bread, whizzed into crumbs
3 tablespoons port or brandy
3 tablespoons milk
Salt and pepper to season
3 tablespoons parsley, chopped

Gently soften the onion in the oil for a few minutes then add the meat and brown well, add the apple and mix through. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, brie, port, milkm salt, pepper and parsley. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

Remove the bird from the marinade and lay it flat out on the bench. Smooth the stuffing all over the bird and tie it up into a roll with kitchen twine. Wrap the bird well in greased foil, place it in a roasting pan and roast for 1 hour. Remove foil and return the pan to the oven to continue cooking until the skin browns, about 15 minutes. Remove the bird from the oven and rest for 15 minutes. Remove the twine and serve, otherwise cool and refrigerate. The yield will be far greater and slicing much easier if you serve the guinea fowl the next day.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

globe artichoke hearts

The wonderful thing about artichoke hearts is they are available all summer and just one large heart per head makes a substantial starter. I like to cook them from a cold-water start on a gentle simmer for 45 minutes, give them at least an hour to drain and cool down then get rid of all those tiresome leaves, clean up the choke and serve them whole in all their glory. I cannot see the benefit of going through the slow process of peeling off each bract (leaf), dipping it in melted butter or vinaigrette with the net result of a tiny nibble of each and a huge mess. I just do not have the patience.

It is interesting to know that when the artichoke flower is still a bud the whole head can be consumed but once the flower forms and the bracts become tough then their bases only become edible along with the all important heart. Artichokes are a member of the thistle family and their flowers alone are things of great beauty.

Artichoke hearts can be a daunting thought unless you know how to prepare them properly but once this is established they are one of the best and most versatile vegetables available.

Artichokes should feel heavy for their size with closed bracts. Select fresh deep green or purple artichokes.

Cut off the stem as close as possible to the base of each artichoke then snap off any really tough outer bracts – by doing so you will fit more artichokes in one large saucepan. Slice off the tops too thus getting rid of any spiky ones (see photo) and place all the artichokes in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water and add the juice of one lemon. Place a bowl over the top to keep them submerged during the cooking process. Bring the pot to the boil, turn down heat to low and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain well, upside down, for at least one hour or  when cool enough to handle.

Now you have two choices depending of your preference.

One is to remove all the leaves and the choke, keeping only the hearts and serve them with melted herb butter as in the photograph.

Alternatively, cut into the centre of each artichoke, remove the choke but keep a lot of outer leaves intact. Pour melted herb butter into the cavity and serve. This gives the choice of a nibble of the bracts ending with the prized heart.

Whole artichokes hearts are lovely stuffed to accompany any meat dish but eating them on their own is truly a wonderful way to experience their special taste and flavour. Robust food, I think!