52 Foods Week Fifty One: Guinea Fowl

Back in January, I shared the delicious chicken we got from Cache Creek Meat Company. Since then I’ve frequently stopped by their table for both simple and exotic animals, only to be turned away because they were sold out. Seeking to remedy this before the year ended, I leapt out of bed and went straight to the Farmers’ Market, a few weeks ago, getting there in time to have my pick of beasts. As luck would have it, they were flush with species, and I had my choice of chicken, duck, guinea fowl, and rabbit. Having just stocked the freezer with our CSA share, I could not bring home every animal that I would have enjoyed. I went with the one option I’d never had before: the guinea fowl.

A small, sartorially varied beast, the guinea fowl has a nice balance of dark and light meat, with a slim breast and long legs. Mine—the largest available—was nearly two pounds of bird. I consulted the Silver Spoon for ideas, and settled on a plan involving bacon, herbs, and a pot full of persimmons, potatoes, and onions.

Fowl with Stuffings

I began by cutting in half a few slices of Llano Seco’s wonderfully thick cut bacon. I placed two pieces in the bird’s cavity, along with sprigs of rosemary and thyme. Then I draped a few more pieces of bacon over the guinea fowl’s breast.

Gird with Bacon

I pinned the bacon with some skewers, then trimmed the ends to allow for easy browning of the bird.

Trim Skewers

I brushed our large Le Creuset with oil and did my best to brown the bird allover. Meanwhile, I chopped the onions, persimmons, and potatoes that would cook with it.

Browning the Bird

Once the bird was as well browned as I could manage in the deep pot, I threw in the onions and cooked them until they were translucent.

Sautéing Onions

I returned the bird to the pot, and surrounded it with the onions, persimmons, and potatoes. I’ve seriously embraced persimmons this year, enjoying them both raw and roasted. I particularly enjoy them cooked along with meat in a large pot, with or without potatoes.

Bird in Pot with Onions, Persimmons, and Potatoes

I covered the pot, and put it in the oven at 325°F. After 40 minutes, I removed the bacon from the sides of the bird and the cavity, then left it to cook longer with the lid off. At this point, the bird was still quite pale, but cooking with the lid removed would allow it to darken and let the skin crisp up a little.

After 45 Minutes, Remove Bacon

I sliced the bacon into lardons, and finished them in a pan on the stovetop. After another 15 minutes, the guinea fowl was done, and I removed it from the oven and the pot and let it rest.

Cook Another 15 for Color

I tossed the lardons into the pot with the vegetables, stirred them together, and scooped them into a serving bowl with a slotted spoon. Before disposing of the liquid in the pot, I drizzled a little back on top of the vegetables. Then I carved up the guinea fowl.

Carved Bird and Vegetables

The guinea fowl was very moist and tender. While the light meat was about the color I expected, the legs were impressively dark, even a little ruddy. They were also a little sinewy, but quite tasty, and the breast was succulent, needing just a little salt and carrying a bit of flavor from the bacon. The roast potatoes and persimmons were a good complement—a wonderful mix of sweetness from the fruit and saltiness from the bacon. This was a fun bird to buy and cook.

Guinea Fowl for Serving

All the photos are here.

52 Foods Week Forty Nine: Ground Beef

As promised, it’s time for burgers. Burgers may be my favorite meal. In Portland, I did a pretty good job of maintaining at least a burger a week habit, and before we moved to Davis, I made a bucket list that was largely driven by a desire for burgers I’d heard about but hadn’t had yet. Over the last couple years, I’ve tried to perfect my technique to deliver my ideal, medium-rare burger.

We recently joined a meat CSA called the Foragers. Each month we receive a mix of beef, lamb, and chicken. We invited a friend over, and busted out a one pound package of 85% lean ground beef. I’ve found that 1/3 pound burgers are the perfect size—meaty and filling, without being overwhelming. I generally prefer something closer to 75-80% lean beef, but I’m not too picky, as long as it isn’t very lean.


I divided the beef into equal portions and formed some thick patties.

Weighing Burgers

Then I pressed some salt and pepper into each side of the patties.

Salt and Pepper

I put some bacon grease in a cast iron skillet and sautéed some onions.

Onions in Bacon Grease

When the onions were done, I put the burgers in. I use a frequent flipping method, flipping every minute. As detailed by A Hamburger Today, this method helps retain moisture and reduce the ratio of overcooked to medium rare meat.

Burgers in the Skillet

I find that nine minutes is about the perfect cooking time for medium-rare. When they were done, I removed them to the buns. I like mayo and a bit of dijon on mine. I added a nice dollop of chèvre to the burger.

Chèvre on the Burger

Since tomatoes are very out-of-season, and persimmons are very in season, I added some sliced Fuyu persimmons.

Persimmons on Top

Finally, I added some butter leaf lettuce and the sautéed onions.

Onions and Lettuce

Everyone got to make the burger the way she liked it.

Everyone Is Ready

The goat cheese and persimmon were a killer combo, a little sweet and much better than a December tomato would have been. Though I enjoy a wide variety of cheeses on my burgers, I’ve found recently that soft cheeses, such as chèvre or bleu cheese, added after the burger is done cooking, are really doing it for me. All the photos are here.