12 May 2014

To everything, turn turn turn...

As Walt blogged yesterday, on Friday we got the new kitchen stove we wanted. It was the only one we could find that had all the features we were set on having: four gas burners on the cooktop, including one called "a double ring" that is ultra-rapide and very hot, along with a voluminous electric oven and a range of programmable cooking modes that include a rotisserie or tournebroche.

When Callie came into the kitchen and saw the pintade turning on the rotisserie, it scared her and she barked like crazy.

We also decided to go with a stainless steel model rather than a white enamel finish, because the white stove we just got rid of was so hard to keep clean. When we replace the 11-year-old refrigerator and the 10-year-old dishwasher, we'll probably get new stainless models of those appliances too. The new stove is Italian, and the brand is Smeg. We use bottled gas (butane) because we don't get gaz de ville out here in the country.

Here's the bird skewered, seasoned, and rubbed with olive oil, ready for the oven.

So yesterday was the big test. Walt bought a pintade (guinea hen) at our favorite poultry vendor's stand when he went to the Saturday market in Saint-Aignan this week. We've been cooking and eating pintades very regularly since 2003, when we moved here, and in a lot of ways they are more delicious than turkey or chicken, birds to which they are closely related.

 The bird turning on the spit over a pan of seasoned cooking liquid

Guinea fowl are standard items in French markets and supermarkets, along with rabbits and ducks, so they are no trouble to find, and they aren't particularly expensive. Walt paid €5.40/kg for this bird, which (with the very weak dollar right now) comes to about $3.50 U.S. per pound. It's easy to pay a lot more than that for a farm-raised, free-range chicken.

The pintade hot out of the oven, after cooking for about 90 minutes

Anyway, I wanted to roast a bird on the rotisserie, to see how well it would work. Well, it works great. As usual, I put the bird on the spit and got it all set up. I put a pan of water — well, water and wine — directly under the bird on a baking pan so that the drippings wouldn't fall onto a hot surface and make an excessive amount of smoke. The resulting cooking liquid makes a nice sauce to have with the poultry and vegetables you serve.

Onions, mushrooms, and bay leaves in the cooking liquid, along with all the guinea fowl giblets, made a good sauce.

That said, I had an even better idea this time. Instead of just setting a pan of liquid under the bird, I added some sliced mushrooms, onions, and garlic to the pan, along with some bay leaves, allspice berries, and salt and pepper. That made a really good sauce after it was cooked. We had mashed potatoes (purée de pommes de terre) with the guinea hen, and a big green salad with the kind of simple vinaigrette that we make and never get tired of (Dijon mustard, vinegar, a blend of olive and sunflower oil, and salt and pepper).

What else can I say? It was a very simple Sunday dinner for an anniversary weekend. It was also Mother's Day in America (but not in France), and I wish all you mothers and grandmothers reading this a belated Happy Mother's Day.


  1. I really miss the variety of food you get in Europe, Guinea hen being one of them. I am glad you like the new stove and hopefully, it will work like clock work for years to come.

  2. Man oh man, that looks tasty. Such fun to have a new appliance to enjoy! (And, that's hilarious about Callie barking at the roasting pintade *LOL*).

  3. Callie is a funny dog- she's skittish like our cat. I bet she enjoyed smelling the delicious meal you cooked yesterday. Consider your new oven christened !

  4. What a lovely new toy. Did your double ring come with a wok support? ours did, but it was only suitable for a flat-bottomed wok. We switched it with the one from our old Delonghi. I've heard most Italians don't admit to liking any cuisine save their own!

  5. Pauline, the only wok we've got has a flat bottom, so no problem there. I bet most people in most countries, not just Italians, mostly prefer their own country's cooking.

    Evelyn, hi, and yes, Callie is a little like a cat or a Republican: she is very suspicious of change and usually slightly rattled by it. LOL

  6. I like that Republican comparison, Ken. I couldn't agree more!

    I will be interested to hear if the stainless steel is easier for you to clean than the white enamel. I like that large oven window. Callie will surely get used to it...eventually.

    Mary in OR

  7. my two reactions were to yell: WOW what a stove! and then laugh at Callie barking. my dogs would probably line up to watch the meat on a spit. :-) congrats on the new stove - i'm simply pea green with envy - it's a stunner!
    ps i'm always snickering about your guineas... we have just one guinea left. he's an old man bird and a little nutty. he's too old to butcher and we wont get anymore because they scream like howler monkeys.

    1. There were a load of open farm visits around here the other w/e.
      One that Pauline and I visited had solved the problem of continuous noise from the Guinea Fowl...
      they had let the tussock grass grow tall in their run.
      All the birds sat quietly in the "safety" of the tussock grass...
      just the odd peep of communication....
      until they were "walked" by the farmer's wife...
      out into the open...
      and then that screaming started!!!
      They were allowed back in to the clumpy grassland and the panicky screaming stopped...
      just like it had been switched off.
      It was an interesting demonstration....

    2. Tim, they are funny creatures. When they are happy they have the most beautiful song.. but if something startles them they scream like you cant imagine. I really like them but our neighbors started hating us.....


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