Guinea Fowl and Salsify Sous-Vide with Porcini Sauce

After all the complicated cooking over the holidays, I felt like making something simple. I felt I should give salsify another chance (especially after Eha had proclaimed it her favorite vegetable), and I had picked up some guinea fowl breasts. I decided to cook both sous-vide (no surprises there) and to pair them with a porcini mushroom sauce and mashed potatoes. This made for a fine meal.

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Salsify is also known as poor man’s asparagus. It looks a bit similar, but it is a lot harder to clean and doesn’t have as much flavor. I had tried breaded and deep-fried salsify before. That was nice, but the flavor of the breading overpowered the flavor of the salsify (even though it was just bread crumbs!). I had also tried it sous-vide, but againt he flavor was so subtle that I wasn’t very enthusiastic about it. Then I thought of my favorite solution for boosting the flavor of vegetables: roasting them in the oven. So I parcooked the salsify and then roasted them. The result was salsify with flavor! But still a delicate flavor that went well with the delicate flavor of the guinea fowl and the woody flavor of the porcini sauce. Here’s what I did.

Ingredients

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I was making this up as I went, so not all ingredients are in this shot

For 2 servings

1 guinea fowl breast fillet (two halves)

fresh thyme

flour for dusting

450 grams (1 lb) salsify

a bit of lemon juice (or powdered Vitamin C)

25 grams (1 oz) dried porcini mushrooms

1 shallot, minced

2 Tbsp heavy cream

60 ml (1/4 cup) dry white wine

mashed potatoes made from 500 grams (1.1 lb) potatoes

4 Tbsp (clarified) butter

1 Tbsp olive oil

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

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Season the guinea fowl breasts with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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Vacuum seal them with fresh thyme and cook sous-vide for 3 hours at 57ºC/135ºF. This time and temperature combination is enough to pasteurize the guinea fowl, and due to the low temperature the meat will be tender and juicy rather than dry.

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Scrub the salsify under running water to remove most of the dirt.

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Use gloves to peel the salsify. They give off a sticky juice that will stain your hands and is difficult to wash off. Salsify are known as “kitchen maid’s sorrow” in the Netherlands (keukenmeidenverdriet) because of this.

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Cut off the ends of the salsify and peel them. Cut them into 8 cm (3″) pieces.

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Put them into a bowl of water to which you have added some lemon juice or powdered vitamin C. The vitamin C (powder or from the lemon) will prevent the salsify from turning brown.

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Season the salsify with salt and vacuum seal them with some olive oil.

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Cook them sous-vide for 15 minutes at 88ºC/190ºF. Since the sous-vide cooker was already occupied for the guinea fowl, I did this in a regular pot with a digital thermometer. For cooking vegetables it is OK if you manage to keep the temperature between 85ºC and 90ºC (or between 185ºF and 195ºF).

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Meanwhile, cover the porcini mushrooms with 250 ml (1 cup) of hot water and allow to soak for 10 minutes.

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When the salsify have been par-cooked sous-vide, plunge them in (ice) cold water to stop the cooking. Preheat the oven to 225ºC/440ºF.

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Toss the salsify with a tablespoon of olive oil and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

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Roast the salsify in the oven at 225ºC/440ºF for about 15 minutes or until they start to get brown patches, turning them halfway.

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After soaking for 10 minutes, drain the porcini mushrooms, reserving the soaking liquid. Roughly chop the porcini mushrooms.

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Filter the soaking liquid with a cheese cloth or kitchen paper.

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Heat 2 Tbsp butter in a frying pan and add the shallot. Sauté over medium heat until the shallot is translucent.

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Add the chopped porcini mushrooms and continue to sauté for a few minutes over medium heat.

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Add the porcini soaking liquid.

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Cook over medium low heat to thicken the sauce.

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Continue to cook until almost all of the liquid has gone. Turn off the heat.

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Take the guinea fowl out of the sous-vide cooker.

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Take the guinea fowl out of the sous-vide pouch. Pat them dry and sprinkle with flour.

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Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp butter in a frying pan and brown the guinea fowl quickly over high heat on both sides. Take the guinea fowl out of the pan and arrange on warm plates.

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Deglaze the pan with the white wine, scraping the pan with a wooden spatula to get all flavor from browned bits into the sauce.

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Add the mushrooms to the wine, as well as the heavy cream. Stir to mix and cook until the sauce has a nice thick consistency.

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If you timed everything perfectly, the salsify and the mashed potatoes should now be ready as well. Serve them along with the guinea fowl and finish with the sauce.

Wine pairing

This is best with an oaked dry white wine. The oak goes well with the woody character of the salsify and the mushroom sauce. A very light red could also work, but with delicate white meat like this, white wine is the best choice.

Flashback

Two years ago I blogged about a pretty successful attempt to recreate a dish I’d had at a two-star Michelin restaurant near Naples, Torre del Saracino, just based on my memory of the dish: pasta with cauliflower, oyster, and pecorino cheese. Back then I wrote: “On December 23 we had dinner at one of the best restaurants in Italy, La Torre del Saracino in Vico Equense. The chef Gennaro Esposito is a master at making very simple local dishes with high-quality but simple ingredients taste delicious. The simplicity can be a bit misleading, because you don’t get two Michelin stars for ordinary food. Since we liked one of the dishes with oysters, cauliflower, pecorino cheese and pasta so much, I decided to have a go at recreating it from memory. I did not ask the chef how he had made it, I just tried to remember what I had tasted and thought how I would do it. The result was obviously not as good as at the restaurant, but still quite pleasing. Since it’s a very original recipe and not that hard to do, I’m sharing it with you below.”

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21 thoughts on “Guinea Fowl and Salsify Sous-Vide with Porcini Sauce

  1. How ironic – I recently mentioned to another blogger – an American living in France – how the Guinea Fowl we raised at our farm in Quebec (Canada) were rather dry. She said Guinea Fowl in Europe are not dry… I wonder what we did wrong! Is it hard to buy Guinea Fowl in an ordinary market in Europe? I’ve never seen them for sale either in the States or when we lived in Quebec. And they sure weren’t sold in Malta ! Great recipe as always Stefan.

    • Thanks Cecile.
      They are only available from places that specialize in poultry, or from general supermarkets during the holiday season.
      Guinea fowl can be dry for two reasons: (1) it has been frozen, (2) it has been overcooked. The preparation is the same as chicken breast.
      There might also be a difference in the variety of the birds between the US and Europe, but also the guinea fowl here is very lean.

      • Perhaps I overcooked my Guinea Fowl…. Guinea Fowl are really, really characters, as far a birds go…. They’re known as the ‘barking dogs’ of the barnyard. If they know you… they’re quiet… if they don’t – wow – do they ever squawk!!

    • Especially if you’re curious :-) If it’s hard to obtain where you are, you’re not missing much. I’m glad though that I finally found a way to boost its flavor.

  2. I am so curious about Salsify. I will have to have The Swedish Pop Band bring me home some gloves from the hospital… don’t want a sorrowful kitchen maiden. Now, to find it somehow. The flavor from the herbs in the sous vide and that amazing porcini broth must be outstanding. If you had a restaurant, I would dine there nightly! Take care, Stefan. – Shanna

  3. You have put a smile on my face about the salsify :) ! I did have some rather unusual food passions as a child, ’cause besides the vegetable I was quite potty about home [our home farm] made blood cakes, black pudding with heaps of cereal grains inside and some fish fingerlings looking like small eels, which actually tasted gritty :) ! And my parents were very classic in their cuisine!!!!! Do not have a clue how any were prepared, methinks some end frying may have taken place, but could put away salsify by the plate especially when I was ill :) ! Not much experience with guines fowl, I am afraid :D !!

  4. Nice post and great photos, Stefan. I’ve never tried salsify so I am intrigued. As for the guinea fowl, I have never seen it in any of the markets in DFW. I have seen live guineas and have loads of feathers with which I tie flies but no meat. I have always wondered how it tasted. Great sauce! That I can actually make. :)

  5. I am very relieved to see I am not alone in leaving ingredients out of the ingredients shot. It seems to be almost pathological with me. The salsify is a new one on me. The dish looks delicious. I will study the pot based sous viding around the blog over the next few days….

  6. Stefan, I found your blog while researching sous vide cooking and became interested when I noticed you are Dutch and your focus seems to be on Italian cooking. I am of mostly Dutch heritage, third generation in the States and my husband is 100% Italian and first generation born in the states.

    My mother in law is from Maiori and has made a version of Torre del Saracino with slight variation from your recipe. Always in her sauce there are anchovies and I mean a whole tin of anchovies and red pepper. Surprisingly, it does not taste fishy at all just sort of a nutty, salty background flavor.

    I have used the cauliflower, anchovy, garlic base with all sorts of seafood with great results. It is also wonderful without any protein added. Octopus is actually wonderful added to this sauce and, as I’m sure you know, octopus is easy to cook sous vide.

    Thanks for your great blog. I read everyone.

    Jane

    Oh, I really loved reading about your Dutch pancakes. I make them almost every weekend. i felt like I was in California with my Great Grand Mother Esser who only spoke Dutch. It was a wonderful memory!

    • Hi Jane, thanks for visiting and taking the time to leave such a nice comment! My main focuses are indeed sous-vide and Italian, although I do lots of different stuff.
      Anchovies are used in many Italian recipes to provide umami and don’t taste fishy in such preparations.
      You are right that octopus is easy to cook sous-vide; that’s the only way I’ve ever prepared octopus actually.
      Also glad you liked the pannenkoeken :-)

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