Ballotine and stuffed breast of guinea fowl with a pistou of vegetables and mixed grains

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This underrated meat is treated in two ways in this stuffed guinea fowl recipe by Frances Atkins. The breast is stuffed with mozzarella and wild herbs, while the leg is rolled into a ballotine around a pancetta and herb stuffing.

First published in 2015




Guinea fowl

Lemon relish

Assorted grains

Guinea fowl sauce

Pistou of vegetables


For the lemon relish, thoroughly wash the lemons and place in a pan. Cover with water and add a pinch of salt. Simmer for 30 minutes, then allow to cool
Thinly slice the onion and warm gently with 30g of the sugar until softened
  • 1 onion
  • 30g of caster sugar
Cut the cooled lemons lengthways and remove the pith and pulp with a spoon. Pass this through a sieve
Halve the lemon shells again and thinly slice. Add the slices to the onion and cook gently for 20 minutes with the remaining sugar and half the pulp
  • 20g of caster sugar
Stir until the relish reaches the desired consistency. Discard the remaining pulp and store the relish in a jar
Fill 4 small pans with water and bring to the boil. Pour 70g of each mixed grain into each saucepan, then cook until the grains are tender. Drain and set aside until required
To butcher the guinea fowl, take a sharp knife and place the whole bird, breast-side down, on a secure chopping board
Pull 1 leg gently back towards the other leg so that you can see the joint between the leg and back. Feel for the join and carefully cut through it, but not the leg bone, then repeat for the other leg
To take the breasts off the crown, place the bird breast-side up on a chopping board and feel for the central bone. Carefully cut down one side, as close to the bone as possible
Open up the cut to check that you are not leaving any breast meat on the bone. Follow the bone down, running your knife along the central bone until you have released all the breast meat
Repeat this process for the second breast, then place in a clean container in the fridge until required. Retain the carcass for the sauce
To tunnel bone the legs, gently scrape the meat away from the central bone, taking care not to split the skin. Remove the meat from the bone to create a flat piece of meat
Gently remove most of the leg meat from the skin in small pieces. Place the skin to one side, being careful to leave some flesh attached
Mince or finely dice the detached leg meat with the pancetta. Cut the meat against the grain to ensure that it breaks down when it cooks
Chop the anchovies and add to the mince along with half of the herbs. Season and mix well
Place the mince in the 2 leg skins and roll into a sausage shape (ballotine). Roll the sausages in a thick layer of cling film, knotting each end to secure
Set aside in the fridge for 10 minutes to set. Once set, poach the sausages in boiling water for 15 minutes
Remove from the water and allow to cool before removing the cling film. Preheat the oven to 200˚C/gas mark 6
In the meantime, chop the mozzarella into small pieces and mix with the remaining herbs
Place a pan over a high heat and add a little olive oil. Once the oil is hot, brown the guinea fowl breasts on one side, then turn over to seal the breasts on the other side
  • olive oil
Remove from the pan, cut a pocket in the side of each breast, making sure to avoid the skin, and stuff with a small amount of the mozzarella mixture
Place the unwrapped stuffed legs in a pan and coat with the honey. Add a little water to the honey to prevent this from burning
  • 1 tbsp of honey, Yorkshire heather
Place the stuffed breasts in the pan, skin-side down, along with the leg, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and slice both the leg and breast at an angle into 4 pieces
To prepare the sauce, place the chopped vegetables and star anise in a large pan with the carcass and fill with salted water. Simmer until reduced by half
Drain the liquid and discard the vegetables, then reduce down to a sticky consistency
Chop the shallots and sauté in a little butter in a pan. Add the white wine, then add to the guinea fowl stock. Pass through a sieve, then add a little cream and seasoning to finish the sauce
Steam the broccoli, carrots and asparagus spears. Meanwhile, add the chicken stock to a small saucepan and reduce to 125ml. Add the sherry and reduce by half until it has the consistency of a rich glaze
Remove from the heat, place the steamed vegetables into the glaze and gently coat
Mix together the cooked rice, barley and quinoa and warm through on the stove
On each plate, serve a piece of breast and leg on a bed of vegetable pistou. Finish with the warm mixed grains, pumpkin seeds and lemon relish. Serve immediately
First published in 2015

The unique beauty of the rolling Yorkshire Dales has long framed Frances Atkins’ creative cooking, offering a stunning backdrop to her creative, spirited and beautifully executed food.

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