Friday, September 27

A Casserole of Guinea Fowl, Beer & Violet Garlic

There is a fantastic greengrocers in Clifton Village (, they always seem to stock the most inspiring seasonal produce when other shops veer towards the mundane - why aren't all greengrocers like this? 

Unusually I shopped for the vegetables first before deciding on what protein to cook, and this is the result. Cracking baby English parsnips and bunched rainbow carrots, dew dropped cavalo nero and massive cloves of purple tinged French garlic - it had to be an autumnal casserole. I was sort of inspired by that old-school recipe for chicken with forty cloves of garlic. The long slow cooking renders the garlic to a mellow background flavour and the same is true here - don't be put off by the quantity.

Most guinea fowl is farmed these days so not really classed as game. It does however have a great flavour - my wife will only eat breast meat and as she succinctly put it: "It has the flavour of chicken thigh meat, but without having to eat the legs". Strange girl - for two:

A guinea fowl
A bottle of good dark beer - I used Bath Ales 'Barnsey'
10 baby carrots - washed, top and tailed
8 baby parsnips - washed, top and tailed
a handful of baby potatoes
1 small leek - cleaned and cut into 1 inch chunks
8 massive cloves of violet garlic - peeled
Chicken stock - 500ml
Double cream - 200ml
Dijon - 1 tbsp
Chives - a small bunch, chopped

Joint the bird into two breasts, thighs and drumsticks - or get your butcher to do this. In a dry pan, fry the guinea fowl pieces skin side down until golden then transfer to a casserole dish. Chuck the garlic into the pan and gently fry until golden taking care not to burn. Add this to the casserole along with the vegetables, beer and chicken stock. Season well then lid on and into the oven at 160c for 2 to 3 hours until the meat is falling off the bone.

Gently remove the meat and vegetables from the sauce and arrange on a serving dish, cover and keep warm.  Strain the sauce into a wide pan and pick out the garlic cloves. Chuck any remaining bits from the sieve in the bit then push the garlic through the sieve into the sauce. Add the cream, mustard and reduce until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Check the seasoning and add the chives. Pour the sauce over the guinea fowl and vegetables and serve with crusty bread and blanched buttered greens.

Farinata with Rosemary & Maldon Salt

I watched a tv programme the other day about 'What the Italians have done for food' or some such title. It was basically a homage to Rose Grey and Ruth Rodgers of River Cafe fame and it motivated me to scour ebay for their books which were missing from my now extensive (obsessive) library. The seminal blue and yellow books are fantastic but it was the green 'veggie' tome that led me to this simple but beautiful recipe. Falling somewhere between a pancake and a crisp edged unleavened flatbread, the potential pairings for this dish are seemingly unlimited. I made an aubergine puree topped with roasted red peppers and pine nuts and used the farinata to scoop up the resulting gooey mess - lush as they would say in Bristol.

Chickpea (gram) flour - 150g
Tepid water - 500ml
Ground black pepper - 1/2 tsp
Maldon salt
Extra virgin - 50ml plus more for drizzling
Fresh rosemary - a few sprigs

Whisk the flour, water, a little salt and pepper to make a smooth batter. Leave to rest for a few hours. Add the oil to the batter and beat again. Heat a wide shallow ovenproof pan on the stove over a medium heat. Any pan roughly 24cm wide will do - I used a paella pan - the aim is to fill the pan with batter to no more than 1cm deep.

Set the oven to 220c. Swirl a little more olive oil around the now hot pan and pour in the batter. Shake the batter about a bit to get an even covering, sprinkle with rosemary and maldon salt then bake for 10 to 15 mins until the batter is set, the top is golden and the edges are crispy. Remove from the oven, drizzle with more oil and slice into wedges to serve. This needs to be eaten straight away. I ate some leftovers the next day but really it was not half the dish it was when hot from the oven.

Thursday, September 19

Gratinated Pancake stuffed with Rainbow Chard, Iron Bark Squash & Dorset Blue Vinney

I almost forgot to post this - the photo lay languishing on my Iphone until now. Chard is a great vegetable, although granted, it may be a little hard to find this late in the season. Don't get too hung up on what to stuff the pancakes with, use your imagination. With chard, you pretty much get two vegetables in one as the leaf can be treated like spinach and the stems are more celery like in texture and need slow cooking. A cracking little veggie dish to keep the non-meat eaters happy. Makes four

Pancake Ingredients:
Plain Flour - 110g
Salt - pinch
2 eggs
Milk - 200ml
Water - 75ml
Butter for frying

Bechamel Ingredients:
Milk - 500ml
1 small onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove
1 good pinch of nutmeg
A good grind of black pepper and a pinch of salt.
50g butter
50g flour

1 small onion - peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
500g of Ironbark or another squash, peeled, seeded and cut into chunks
500g Chard - washed, leaves separated from stems and shredded
200g Dorset Blue Vinney
Grated cheddar
Olive oil

Make your pancake batter by beating all the ingredients until smooth. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a medium high heat. Add a knob of butter and swirl around the pan. Add 1/4 of the batter and swirl around the pan to get a nice even layer and a circular shape. Cook until the underside is golden then flip and cook to the same degree on the flipped side. Remove from the pan to a plate, allow to cool and repeat until the batter is used up.

Toss the squash in a little oil and season well. Roast in a medium oven until soft. Infuse your milk in a large pan by gently warming to just below boiling with the onion, clove, nutmeg salt and pepper. 

Gently fry the onion, chard stems and garlic until soft and starting to colour. Add the squash, crumbled blue cheese and season well. 

Make a roux with the butter and flour then add the hot milk straining out the infusion ingredients beforehand. Bring to the simmer and allow to bubble gently for a minute or two stirring all the time. 

Add the chard leaf to the squash mix and allow to wilt. Assemble the dish by placing 1/4 of the squash mix in the centre of each pancake, fold over the edges to make a square. Flip over so the edges are underneath in an over proof bowl. Top with b├ęchamel and grated cheese. Flash under a hot grill until bubbling and golden.