Prince Philippe of Araucania
From The Steel Crown No. 6 - Copyright 1997 NAARS
Editor's note -- The following is a translation of some sections of Prince Philippe's Eloge et Gastonomie de la Pintade, published in Perigueux in 1994. In this book, Prince Philippe offers a natural and cultural history of the guinea fowl, which came to France from Mauritania in northwest Africa. Having sung the bird's praises, Prince Philippe gets down to business and tells us how to cook them.
The first section translated is an introduction to the book by the vice-president of the French national gastronomical society. The translation of the introduction is followed by a translation of Chapter 7 of the book, "Some Culinary Principles" and finally recipes for guinea fowl are offered.
Philippe A. Boiry is always a charming and scholarly friend. He is a distinguish, convivial and handsome man who knows how to laugh and make others laugh. As a master of public relations, he always has the right word at the right time.
He is a past president of the national organization of professional press secretaries. Currently, he is the Dean of the Free Faculty of Sciences of Communication, an institute for the study of communications and mass media. And above all else, he is the legitimate, legal and constitutional heir of Orelie-Antoine of Tounens, the Perigueux lawyer who was the beloved king of the Kingdom of Araucania and Patagonia, which he founded in the 19th century. The kingdom, which is larger than France and situated at the southern tip of the Chile, was recognized at one time by all major foreign powers.
An efficient teacher, learned man, unusual claimant and debonair royal prince without territorial claims, Philippe Boiry is received officially and respectfully by Chilean authorities.
Now with a flourish he adds to all his other titles that of the specialized writer, by becoming the poet of the guinea fowl, the gallinaceous Numidian, the metamorphosis of the sisters of Meleagre, according to Greek mythology, whose thin bluish feathers are speckled with white, and whose luscious meat is an Epicurean delight.
His passion, his documentation, his knowledge and his judicious quotes from many naturalists and writers who have been interested in this Mauritanian fowl, the taste of which make one think of pheasant, make this eminently culinary work something else that a simple cookbook. One discovers in it unknown things, disdained by modern housewives. It is a work of natural history, ornithology and gastronomy.
It is said that gastronomy is the art of living. It is, above all, the art of pleasing oneself according to one's taste, and it is also the art of pleasing others. It is without doubt in light of this purpose that our friend, the author of this excellent compilation, has chosen to relate to us the history of the guinea fowl, both wild and domesticated. He searches patiently and with great dignity for the various methods of preparing the bird, including the recipes of Thessalonian cooks, which have been famous for centuries.
In his new vocations as a storyteller or epicure, as in all his other activities, Philippe A. Boiry seems the hedonistic perfectionist, man of culture and, as one would say in the 17th century, a honest man, that to say, a good gentleman having a smattering of knowledge of all things and the enthusiasm to communicate it.
-- Paul de Montaignac, vice-president of the national academy of gastronomy.
I recall a refined meal, hosted in Angers by a famous brand of liqueur for journalists of the gastronomic press. Dr. Edouard of Pomiane, a well-known Epicurean, presided over the meal.
When the dessert was served, the chef came to greet the guests and received a round of well-deserved applause. As the most qualified, the doctor of Pomiane spoke for everyone in congratulating this talented cook. But he introduced into his commentary a small critique, in his mischievous tone: "Chef, your duckling was delicious, but you will permit me a question: why baptize a duckling, as if he were a duck? Both are delectable, but they are different things, and each must be cooked differently."
I was struck by this just remark and since that time I curse it when ducks and ducklings, cockerels and chickens served under an erroneous appellation, as happens too often in many restaurants.
This principle also applies to the guinea fowl: a guinea chick is a young guinea fowl as the duckling is a young duck and the preparation of each must be adapted to this difference. For this reason I have separated, in pages that follow, recipes for guinea fowl and those for guinea chicks.
The guinea fowl -- pheasant of the barnyard -- has flesh nearer to that of the pheasant than that of the rooster. It is delicate and, fragrant. Too often it is treated roughly, while its quality warrants care and attention.
As for guinea chicks, they are rarely found in our markets or poultry shops, which is unfort-unate, because its taste enchants those who love it.
In choosing a guinea fowl, the first principle is making sure it has a flexible breastbone. Its flesh that must be very tight under a transparent skin, elastic under the pressure of the finger and slightly grayish in color. The feet are dark.
A guinea chick that will serve two people will be nearly 800 g. A guinea fowl for four will weigh between 1,200 g and 1,600 g.
The flesh of the guinea fowl is dry. If one wants to eat it as is, one can. Eating dry guinea fowl will keep your linens clean and reduce your cholesterol. But some may want to consume this fowl in a tastier condition. It is customary, in fact, to wrap the guinea fowl in bacon if one must cook it in the oven. If it is to be braised, one can stick it with bacon, but this is not obligatory. One also can, to avoid the bacon, cook it in aluminum foil, or use the good old recipe consisting of stuffing it with Swiss cheese.
An interesting fact for those who watch what they eat: the guinea fowl is particularly healthy since there is only five percent fat in its very digestible meat (though some recipes cited in this work are a bit "fatter" because of their ingredients).
The young guinea fowl is good for all kinds of cooking and recipes. One will keep the more aged guinea chick for salmi. In any case, the flesh of the guinea fowl must not be rotted.
With regard to times of cooking, one can keep to the following general principles (modify sometimes, according to recipes):
--a guinea chick (800g at least) will remain between 25 and 30 minutes in the oven, on the grill or on the roaster. 30 to 35 minutes in the pan.
--a guinea fowl (generally 1 kg or more) will go 30 to 35 minutes to the oven, on the grill or has the roaster and more of 40 to 50 minutes in pan. To keep the bird from drying when one cooks it in the oven, put a small dish of water or soup in the oven during the length of cooking.
One cuts a guinea chick in two whereas the guinea fowl, like all small poultry, will be cut in four parts. One cuts and dresses it quickly, because it is best to serve it very hot. Otherwise it can be slipped in a warm oven for a few minutes to reheat it. So that it keeps all its flavor, wrap the roasted guinea fowl in aluminum foil and put it in the bottom of the refrigerator.
Depending on how it is prepared, the guinea fowl can have a large assortment of side dishes. Potatoes, of course, whether browned, sautéed, dauphine, whipped or as French fries, are a classic vegetable, that can be served as a lone accompaniment or with one or several complementary vegetables.
One will prefer, as good followers of the meat of the guinea fowl, cabbages and mushrooms (sautéed or stuffed), Brussels sprouts and lentils. Chestnuts, roasted or mashed, also go well with this poultry.
Finally, one can serve guinea fowl and chicks with a salad of rice, string beans or a garden vegetables. These last two accompaniments, a bit mundane, will be used only when nothing else is available. The guinea fowl deserves better.
To recover the taste to good eat, it is indispensable to mention here the truffle that, used discreetly, will agreeably mingle its irreplaceable perfume with the flavor of the guinea fowl.
Heat 2 spoonfuls of olive oil in a pan. Make golden on all sides a well trussed up guinea fowl. Add 2 cloves of garlic, an onion cut in four, pike of clove, 3 or 4 shallots, a dill chopped. Recover one glass and half of red wine and one glass and half of hot water in which you will have had a half tablet of chicken bullion, a pinch of celery salt and some drops of Tabasco sauce.
Cover and cook simmer for about 45 minutes. Pour a small glass of old plum brandy in the sauce and let cook 3 minutes.
Cut up and serve hot. Strained and skimmed sauce in a sauceboat. Vegetables on the side.
Truss and wrap in bacon a guinea fowl. Brown on all sides in a frying pan with 60 g of butter. Put it then to roast in a hot oven in a dish with a spoonful of olive oil, after having salted and peppered it. Accompany it with of some carrots and onions cuts in slices and two stalks of celery cut lengthwise.
Just before it is finished cooking, removed the bacon and let the bird brown. Remove the vegetables and the grease from the dish and rinse the guinea fowl with one glass of brandy and one glass of whisky. Ignite, cover and let cook for 5 minute.
Butter a good slice of country bread, put the guinea fowl on the bread in the bottom of a cooking dish. Pour over all one glass of bouillon and boil for several minutes. Serve hot with the fowl cut up, accompanied with its bread sauce.