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Giancarlo Caldesi shows us how to make this delicious winter dish of guinea fowl, dried fruit and Vin Santo.
1 guinea fowl
50 g (2 oz) plain flour, sifted
100 ml (3½ fl oz) extra-virgin olive oil
1 quantity soffritto ingredients
500 ml (18 fl oz) chicken stock
16 dried prunes, stoned
16 dried apricots, stoned
16 whole chestnuts, about 120 g (4½ oz), roasted and peeled – tinned or vacuum packed are fine
5 – 6 tablespoons vin santo
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200˚C / 400˚F / Gas 6
Using a sharp knife, joint the guinea fowl into eight pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Place the flour onto a plate and dip each piece of meat in to coat thoroughly on both sides. Shake off any excess
Heat the olive oil in a large, non-stick, ovenproof frying pan. When hot, add the guinea fowl and cook over a medium heat for about 12 minutes, turning, until golden brown and crispy. Drain quickly on kitchen paper and set aside
Clean the pan and cook the soffritto
Add the guinea fowl, stock, dried prunes, apricots, chestnuts and vin santo to the soffritto once it’s ready. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Place the pan in the preheated oven and cook for about 40 minutes. Stir from time to time to ensure the fruits are covered by the liquid. If, towards, the end of the cooking time, it begins to look dry, add a little more stock.
To check if the meat is cooked, pierce the guinea fowl with a skewer – when the juices run clear it is ready. Remove from the oven. Divide the meat and fruit between four plates so that everyone gets two portions of guinea fowl, four apricots and four chestnuts. Pour the juice from the pan over and serve immediately. Serve with Roasted Carrots and Parsnip.
Makes about 200 g (7 oz)
150 ml (1/2 pint) extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ red onions, weighing about 150 g (5 oz), very finely chopped
2 celery sticks, weighing about 150 g (5 oz), very finely chopped
1 medium carrot, weighing about 150 g (5 oz), very finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 bay leaves
2 garlic cloves, left whole and crushed with the flat side of the knife
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a pan and add the onion, celery and carrot, and season with the salt and some pepper. Add the rosemary, bay leaves and garlic and cook over a low heat for 15 minutes, stirring often – this allows the onion to become sweet. Remove the rosemary and bay leaves, and use the soffrito in your chosen dish.
(if you are making a dish with a delicate flavour, put the rosemary and garlic into the oil first. After 2 minutes remove and discard them. This keeps their flavour to a hint rather than a blast!)