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. One of my uncles was always saying that he would not stay for dinner unless we would cook duck à l’orange. It was just a joke, but every time I believed him. What was so special with duck à l’orange?
The duck à l’orange has ancient origins.
The duck was bred and cooked in China over three thousand 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 recipe, usually considered French, was actually created for the first time in Florence and brought to the court of Francis I by Caterina de’ Medici, who married his son Henry II. But this is just a legend, and probably both the French and the Italians had already realized that the orange is really delicious with the rich and fat duck meat.
Orange and pancetta guinea-fowl
One day mum surprised me and made duck à l’orange. She replied to my Uncle’s joke with another joke: it was not a 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 passed her the recipe.
It is definitely a less noble dish than duck à l’orange, a more familiar and hearty dish. This recipe allows you to impress your guests with minimal effort because it is easy and fun to make. It has a rich taste, a gorgeous taste of holidays given by pancetta and orange, a fruit able to dress up any dish.
The guinea-fowl is much more flavorful than a chicken, has slightly darker meat, and a captivating 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 (2.2 lb) guinea-fowl, already cleaned and divided into large pieces
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 red onion
- 100 g (3 1/2 oz) pancetta, cut into strips
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 sprig of rosemary
- a few sage leaves
- juice of 1 orange
- slices of 1/2 orange
- Rinse the pieces of guinea-fowl under running water, then put them in a bowl with cold water.
- Pour a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a large pot. Add the finely sliced red onion and the diced pancetta. Cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
- Add the pieces of guinea fowl, the rosemary, and the sage, then season the meat with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Stir with a wooden spoon to coat the meat with the seasoning, cover with a lid and cook for about 45 minutes 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 the orange juice is reduced, the meat is ready. Serve immediately.
Searching for other recipes with guinea-fowl? Try the Guinea-fowl meat sauce.