This dish was partly inspired by a delicious meal we had earlier this year at Denbie's Wine Estate near Dorking, and partly by the latest book I've lifted out for my "Power of three" series, Skye Gingell's My Favourite Ingredients (the dishes I've bookmarked to try from it will need to wait until after our holiday, so I'll be back with them another time)
When I was flicking through the book, I was surprised to see mayonnaise served with guinea fowl, but I made my own version of a balsamic mayo and it worked beautifully with it. Mark had been served pearl barley risotto with guinea fowl at Denbie's. I combined the two ideas.
for the mayonnaise (made in a blender/food processor)
generous pinch of salt
about 100-150ml light olive oil
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
Put the whole egg and salt into the small goblet of your blender and set to medium speed. Blend until well beaten then very slowly drizzle in the oil through the hole in the top of the blender until you get a very thick emulsion. You will find that the more oil you add, the thicker it gets, which to me seems counterintuitive but who cares as long as it works?
When you are happy with the consistency, add the vinegar and mustard and blend at high speed until fully incorporated.
Chill until ready to serve.
Note that I have used a whole egg rather than just a yolk. I find this makes a very slightly lighter mayonnaise, ideal when it is to be served with a rich dish like this, and also helps to prevent the mixture from curdling.
This makes quite a lot, but it will keep for a few days covered in the fridge and is delicious for dunking chips in!
for the guinea fowl
1 guinea fowl, cut into 4 joints
splash of oil and a small knob of butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 tbs dry sherry
a few spoonfuls of stock - I used a rich veal stock because that's what I had on hand.
Set the oven to 180C/350F/gas 4. Heat the oil and butter in a large lidded ovenproof pan and fry the guinea fowl portions,skin side down to start with, for about 4 minutes on each side until the skin is golden. Set the pieces aside and add the onion to the pan, and fry until soft. Tip in the sherry, and when the bubbling subsides, add the bay leaves and a little stock, just enough to make sure the base of the pan is covered.
Return the guinea fowl to the pan, breast side up, cover and place in the oven. Cook for around 50 minutes, checking from time to time to make sure there is still a little liquid in the pan.
for the "risotto" - this is a lot easier than a traditional risotto as you can add all the liquid at once. Of course you can add other ingredients, just as you would with a normal risotto, but I wanted just the simple nutty barley flavour to go with the richness of the guinea fowl and mayonnaise.
1 mug full of pearl barley
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 tbs light olive oil
1 can button mushrooms
twice the volume of barley in hot stock - I used rich veal stock
Canned mushrooms? Yes, I know - the reason was that I forgot to buy fresh ones and happened to have a can we'd brought home from France, and they were so good that I've decided they should be a feature of this dish.
Heat the oil in a lidded pan and fry the onion gently until soft. Tip in the barley and fry for a further 1-2 minutes, then add the stock and mushrooms and bring to the boil. Cover and cook on a very low heat for around 40 minutes until the barley is tender and all the liquid absorbed.
Season at the end of cooking to avoid toughening the barley.
To serve - place some of the barley on a plate, top with a portion of guinea fowl and spoon over any remaining juice from the pan. Serve the mayonnaise on the side. I added some lightly cooked spring greens.