This lovely dish is one of my personal favourites. The recipe was given me, when I was researching in Bordeaux many years ago, by Josette, the then cook at Ch.Loudenne. To pick the fruit she only had to step outside her kitchen door where a very old fig tree grows.
FOR 3 - 4 PEOPLE
1 guinea-fowl including giblets (feeds 3, or possibly 4, depending on appetite and what other dishes are served),
butter 6-8 figs, green or black beurre manié (a teaspoon of flour or corn flour with a teaspoon of butter worked into it) 150 ml (5 fl oz) crème fraîche
FOR THE STOCK:
1 glass white wine 300 ml (1⁄2 pint) water 1 onion 1 large carrot 1 stick of celery 1 leek bouquet garni of parsley, thyme and bay leaf
Preheat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F, 200°C.
Smear the outside of the guinea-fowl with butter and put a lump inside. Place upside down in a roasting tin and roast in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Turn breast side up, baste with the juices and continue roasting for another 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the stock. Cut up all the vegetables and put them in a pan with the rest of the stock ingredients. Bring to the boil and simmer for about half an hour. Strain and taste. It may need to be reduced by fast boiling for about 5 minutes, to concentrate the flavour. Spoon off any fat.
When the guinea-fowl is cooked, remove from the oven and keep warm while finishing the sauce. Put the figs into the hot oven to warm through. Pour off any fat from the roasting tin, place the tin over a medium heat on top of the cooker and pour in some of the stock. Scrape the bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Take the tin off the heat and carefully whisk the beurre manié into the stock and roasting juices and simmer to thicken slightly. When it is incorporated, add crème fraîche.* Keep tasting and decide what seasoning is needed. If you feel the sauce is too thick, add more stock.
Keep the sauce warm while you carve the guinea-fowl. Quarter the figs and arrange with the meat on a serving dish. Pour over the sauce and serve.
*If you prefer not to have a cream sauce, instead, at this point add a small glass of Madeira. Another variation is to replace the figs with grapes, same method.