About this recipe:Guinea fowl, in season in autumn and winter, tastes like a cross between chicken and turkey, and is very lean. Here it's roasted with a fig and pistachio couscous stuffing and basted with a spicy lemon marinade to keep the meat deliciously moist. A leafy salad with fresh oranges makes a great side dish.
1 large guinea fowl, about 1.5kg
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
3 small red onions, each cut into 6 wedges
¼ tsp saffron
500ml chicken or vegetable stock, boiling
75g ready-to-eat dried figs, roughly chopped
50g shelled unsalted pistachios, roughly chopped
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Remove any trussing strings from the guinea fowl, then rinse the bird inside and out under cold running water and dry with kitchen paper. Put into a large, lightly greased roasting tin. Mix the lemon zest and juice with the honey, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, cumin and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Brush some of this mixture generously inside the cavity of the bird, then over the outside. Leave to marinate while making the stuffing or for longer, if convenient. Reserve the rest of the marinade.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4. Put the couscous into a heatproof bowl. Stir the saffron into the stock, then pour over the couscous. Cover and leave to stand for 5 minutes or until all the stock has been absorbed. Stir in the figs and pistachios. Season to taste.
Spoon some of the couscous mixture into the neck end of the guinea fowl. Fold the neck skin over and secure with the wing tips or with a wooden cocktail stick. Put the onion wedges into the cavity of the body (or, if you prefer, arrange them in the tin around the bird after it has been roasting for 40 minutes). Spoon the rest of the spiced lemon juice mixture over the guinea fowl and roast for 1 hour.
Spoon the remaining couscous around the guinea fowl and roast for a further 25 minutes. To test if the bird is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the thigh: the juices should run clear.
Transfer the guinea fowl to a serving platter, loosely cover with foil to keep warm and leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with the couscous and onions.
The marinade and stuffing can be prepared in advance and kept in the fridge until needed.
*For an Indian-style recipe, replace the couscous with basmati rice, slightly under-cooked. Omit the saffron and stock, replace the pistachios with toasted cashews, and use a chopped beef tomato in place of the figs. Flavour with ½ tsp garam masala, 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander and plenty of pepper.