Since I was just a little girl I was intrigued by a dish that for me, accustomed to the common names of rabbit or chicken, had an aristocratic and rich charm: the duck à l’orange. I remember that one of my uncles was always saying that he would not stay for dinner with us unless we made the duck à l’orange. It was just a joke, but every time I believed him! What had of so striking special the duck à l’orange?
The duck à l’orange has ancient origins. The duck was bred and cooked in China over three thousands years ago, then arrived in Europe much later, was appreciated by the Romans and later deeply loved by the British people. It is said that the duck à l’orange, usually considered French, was actually created in Florence and brought to the court of Francis I by Caterina de’ Medici, who married his son Henry II… but this is a legend and probably both the French and the Italians had already realized that the orange is really gorgeous with the rich and fat duck meat.
One day mum surprised me and made the duck à l’orange. She replied to my Uncles’ joke with another joke: it was not duck, but a more prosaic guinea-fowl. Though I asked Mom where the recipe came from, we could not figure out exactly when she started cooking it and who has passed her the recipe.
It is definitely a less noble dish than duck à l’orange, a more familiar and hearty dish. Though, this is a recipe that allows you to impress your guests with a very little effort, because it is easy and fun to make and has a rich taste, a gorgeous taste of holidays given by smoked bacon and orange, a fruit able to dress up any dish.
The guinea-fowl in itself is much more flavorful then a chicken, has a slightly darker meat and a cativating game hint. And look at the colours, warm orange: it tells a story of family celebrations and cozy kitchens pervaded by the reassuring smell of long cooking.
Orange and pancetta guinea-fowl
- 1 kg of guinea-fowl, already cleaned and divided into large pieces
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 large red onion
- 100 g smoked pancetta, diced
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- a few leaves of sage
- juice of 1 orange
- sliced of 1/2 orange
- Rinse the pieces of guinea-fowl under running water, then put them in a bowl with cold water.
- Put in a cast iron or heavy bottomed pot a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, the finely sliced red onion and the diced pancetta. Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until the onion is soft and transparent.
- Add the pieces of guinea fowl, the rosemary, the sage, the salt and the freshly ground black pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook for about 45 minutes with the lid, over medium heat. Turn frequently the pieces of guinea fowl to ensure that every piece is well browned on all sides.
- When the guinea-fowl is almost cooked, squeeze an orange and pour the juice over the meat, add half an orange cut into thin slices, stir and cook for the last 5 minutes.
- When all the orange juice is reduced, the meat is ready.
Searching for other recipes with guinea-fowl? Since today’s my Grandma’s birthday, this is her classic dish, the jugged guinea-fowl.