Steve Farrow is back with another inspiring recipe, this time with the perfect dish to match a soft, perfumed style of red wine, as featured in our Summer Drinking in Style offer.
Georgia is a proud and independently minded nation in the Caucasus. Archaeologically speaking it's in the running for being the cradle of winemaking, with evidence pointing back to its people having the darned good sense to turn their grapes into such a lovely liquid as far back as 8,000 years ago.
With wine so central to their culture, and even influencing the modern wine world with its clay qveri and natural and orange winemaking, feasting is a key feature of Georgian life. The role of toastmaster at gatherings is seen as an important one – a folk after my own heart! The recipe here features two ingredients that are typical of the Caucasus region, namely dried sour cherries and walnuts, and here they combine in a satisfying stuffing for all sorts of fowl or game birds that will provide a delicious backdrop for a broad spectrum of wines. The stuffing is a loose one, with the tender but chewy grains, the sweet and sour cherries, and toasty nuts spilling out as you carve. It certainly makes a change from the Paxo.
(serves 2 generously)
- 1 guinea fowl (or use a small chicken or pheasant, adjusting the cooking time as necessary)
- 50g softened butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 100g pearl barley or spelt (you can use soaked bulgur wheat or cooked wholegrain basmati rice too)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 50g dried sour cherries or cranberries, chopped
- 50g walnuts, toasted for a few minutes and chopped
- 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses (good, slightly thick balsamic vinegar is a fine alternative)
- 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- Juice and grated zest of ½ lemon
- 150ml dry white wine
- Add the pearl barley to a pan of cold water and cook until plumped and tender, usually about 25 minutes. Drain in a colander or sieve and put to one side.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan.
- In a frying pan over a low heat sauté the chopped onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes or so, until they are starting to soften. Add the dried cherries and garlic and cook for a few minutes more.
- Add the cooked pearl barley and stir well to mix everything, and cook for another five minutes, stirring occasionally to turn the barley over.
- Add the walnuts, chopped parsley, bay leaf, pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and zest, a good pinch of salt and a grinding of black pepper. Stir well and leave to cool.
- Once the stuffing has cooled, fill the cavity of the guinea fowl, rub the butter over the skin and season well with the salt and pepper.
- Place the guinea fowl in a large roasting tray and pour in the white wine. Place in the pre-heated oven and cook or 45-50 minutes, covering the bird with foil for the last 10 minutes if it is browning fast. Check that the juices run clear when you pierce the bird with a skewer, and if they are pink or aren't clear give the roast a few more minutes until they are. If you use another bird adjust the cooking time based on its size –a chicken might need longer than a guinea fowl, a pheasant less. If you are nervous about roasting the bird with the stuffing in the cavity, cook the stuffing separately or add to the roasting pan 15 minutes or so before the bird finishes cooking. If you do cook the stuffing separately, remember to adjust the cooking time of the bird down a little as the heat will circulate in the now empty cavity and cook it faster.
- Once the guinea fowl is cooked, take it out of the oven and place on a warmed carving tray and rest for 15-20 minutes. Once it has rested pour off any juices into the cooking juices and stir them together and heat gently. Carve the bird, spoon the stuffing onto warmed plates and put the guinea fowl on top, spooning any of the juices over it. Serve alongside some buttered greens or spinach, or a fresh, crisp salad.
Quite compatible with various wine styles but particularly pleasing with fruity, smooth reds that could even be served lightly chilled, certainly while the sun is shining. The Society's French Pinot Noir, with its charming cherry fruit, can certainly be cooled, as can the vibrant, darker fruited The Society's Beaujolais-Villages. More cherry flavours abound in both The Society's Chilean Pinot Noir, Leyda, the Pinot Noir, Puy de Dôme, Cave Saint-Verny or the deeper Grove Mill Marlborough Pinot Noir and its juicy black cherry and raspberry flavours and twist of spice on the finish. In short, pinot noir and good gamay are great for this dish. From Greece, where Jason and his Argonauts returned to from Georgia with the golden fleece, come the wonderful Xinomavro Jeunes Vignes, Thymiopoulos and its perfumed red fruits, and if you hanker for something with more weight and spice, look to the generous, velvety, almost chocolatey dark fruits of the MacManis Family Petite Sirah.