Clay Baked Guinea Fowl.

This is the last of the Earth themed stories inspired by Brunyfire’s experience at Melbourne’s Food Festival’s Masterclass at Ceres Community Park held during March, 2013.

This demonstration was led by Italian chef Massimo Spigaroli…….P1020008………world renowned chef/farmer from Parma, in the Italian region of Emilia-Romagna, famous for its prosciutto, cheese and architecture.   Here in Parma, Spigaroli runs his restaurant, the Antica Corte Pallavicina which is next to the restored family farm where he produces native breed pigs and cattle, geese, ducks, chickens, fruit, vegetables and grains – all of which ends up on his well dressed plates.

Massimo Spigaroli is particularly famous for his culatello – an expensive dry-cured Italian ham that is often referred to as a center-cut ham. Made from the butt end, high up on the pig’s hind leg, this ham is cured with salt, pepper, garlic, and dry wine – it does not contain as much fat as prosciutto and is spicier in flavor. Ruby red in color…………SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA………. culatello has a strong aroma and a mild but sweet flavor.  According to Carl (who is credited for the photo above) the pigs that are bred for culatello are black and are bred on the Spigaroli’s farm.

It is his Guinea Fowl cooked with culatello in the Po river clay and served with vegetables from our garden that is Spigaroli’s signature dish at his restaurant.  In his demonstration at Ceres however, Spigaroli created an intriguing alternative ‘clay’ to wrap and cook his bird in.

                Clay Baked Guinea Fowl wrapped in Culatello.

The following is Massimo Spigaroli’s recipe and serves 4-6 people.


  • 1 guinea fowl, backbone removed and spatch-cocked
  • 400 g minced pork
  • 4 slices culatello (or just plain ole proscuitto)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Sprig of rosemary
  • 10 juniper berries
  • splash of brandy
  • salt and pepper
  • large vine leaves (or silverbeet leaves)
  • clay – in this instance, made from local dirt (earth), water, flour, salt and an egg white.

First, fire up your wood-fired oven – this is the neat little one at Ceres – it needs to be at least 250 degrees celsius………P1020003………then find your guinea fowl……….P1010365………this handsome devil was scratching around the vines at MONA the last time we visited.  P1020005Once dispatched however, said guinea fowl looks a lot more naked.P1020012Next, Massimo deboned and spatch-cocked the bird.  That is, he removed the backbone and sternum of the bird then flattened or ‘butterflied’ it ready for grilling – though in this instance, he deboned and flattened his bird in order to stuff and roll it. P1020013Massimo then prepared the stuffing by mixing the 400g of minced pork with the 2 crushed garlic cloves, chopped up rosemary, juniper berries, a splash of brandy (or red wine) and plenty of salt and pepper.  This was then laid onto the flattened bird, and carefully rolled…….P1020018………and tied up.  Next, the bird was wrapped with generous amounts of culatello (or proscuitto), liberally seasoned…….P1020019…………and then wrapped in the vine or silverbeet leaf.P1020020While all this was going on, Massimo’s assistant was preparing the ‘clay’.P1020009Firstly, local soil had been collected (about 200g) , and had been slaking (soaking) in water.  This was allowed to get thoroughly saturated, and was then sieved to remove any gravel, pebbles etc. and ladled into an awaiting bowl of flour (about 250g)……..P1020011………where it was mixed in with an egg white and some salt.  It was then ‘wedged’ just like clay on the work surface, and looked remarkably plastic, just like a real clay.  The ‘clay’ was then rolled out onto a floored work top, to prevent it sticking……..P1020016………and then the leaf covered bird was then wrapped in its clay blanket……..P1020021………..making sure that all the edges were sealed to ensure that all the meat juices remained inside and didn’t leak out and get lost.P1020022The same was done with a spud – a bit like Ben Shewry’s potato in the earth in which it was grown – only a bit more literal.P1020026The clay covered bird and spud were then placed in the oven………P1020004

P1020006………and left to cook for about an hour.P1020023

A good indication of whether the bird is cooked is how well done the ‘clay’ looks – if it is well blackened then it’s a sure thing that the bird inside is also ready.P1020027After the designated cooking time (about an hour), Massimo removed the clay parcel, and with a few well chosen cracks at the ‘clay’ casing……..P1020028……….revealed the leafy outer layer.P1020029This was then sliced to reveal the stuffing, guinea fowl flesh and the proscuitto……..P1020031……….and we all finally got a taste.

The verdict – delish!


2 Responses to “Clay Baked Guinea Fowl.”

  1. Looks really juicy and tender. What was the flavour like? Gamey?

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