Saturday, October 27, 2012

Fava beans, guineafowl... and life lessons in the kitchen





 
Finding balance in life is just so darn (for lack of a worse word ;-) difficult. There I am, with that picture in my head telling me what my life should be, could be, would be if... if what? If it wasn't what it is? But it is what it is. All French existentialism aside, I'm realizing more and more how that's just no way to live. Who cares what life is "supposed to be"? According to whom? Bottom line is, I often do care. Too much. It's annoying, I can't shake it sometimes. Waiting for when life will be what it's "supposed to be". Meanwhile, life is now, moving along, regardless of shouldas couldas wouldas.


So... how do fresh fava beans come into that picture, you ask? 

 
 
Well, fava beans have helped me this week.

Thanks to this blog and my renewed passion for cooking since Pablo was born, I have been really excited to eat seasonally. I blogged about the joy brought by heirloom tomatoes a couple of months ago. More recently, I have been going to farmer's markets or grocery stores like one goes on a treasure hunt. "What am I going to find that's fresh, local, seasonal, and hopefully organic?" Eating/cooking seasonally and being open-minded and eager to discover whatever the seasons bring you, has been one way to live in the present, and be grateful for what it has to offer.

Once again, life lessons in the kitchen... If I can teach myself and my son to go into a store - and into life - with as few expectations as possible, but with an eager open mind and a desire to learn, take in, discover, explore... if I can teach him how rewarding that can be, and that may just be the secret of happiness in life, then I will be content.

So this last week, it was fava beans the present season brought us, and boy were we grateful.



 
In France, fava beans are in season in the fall, but I read in the US, they can be in season in the spring and summer. Have you seen them around in your area? From seeing them appear for the first time at Whole Foods the past couple of weeks, I assume they grow in the fall here. We ate some in Normandy in September and Pablo loved them raw as well as cooked. Yes, they are a bit labor intensive, as you have to shell them, and peel their outer skin (shelling and peeling is a cool activity kids can help with!), but I hope you will believe me when I tell you they are so worth it! They just don't compare to their dried counterparts.

So when my friend Christelle in Normandy mentioned this super simple, yet delicious recipe using the fava beans she often gets in her CSA delivery this time of year, I was sold.

Guinea fowl, named pintade in French, is a very common type of poultry most French families consume regularly.

In case you're wondering what a guinea fowl looks like...
 
It is as easy to cook as a chicken, but does have much more flavor. It is fairly small usually, and rarely feeds more than 4-5 people. If you haven't had it before, and you have an opportunity to find it, you should give it a try. (In LA, I found it at the poultry stall at the Farmer's Market). This recipe could be done exactly the same way with a regular chicken (or any type of poultry), but the fava beans are better complemented by a meat that has a stronger flavor.


 
 
Did I ever imagine I would be one day writing about guinea fowl and fava beans? Definitely not. And here I am, loving every minute of it. Throwing the shoulds out my kitchen window, and focusing on what's right there, in front of me.
 
Have you found something unexpected and seasonal recently that you were excited to cook and try? If not, on your next trip at the market, would you be willing to pick one unfamiliar seasonal produce and experiment with it in the kitchen? 
 
What life lessons have you learned in the kitchen?


Roasted guinea fowl with fava beans

Recipe by my good friend Christelle in Normandy, merci Christelle!

Serves about 4

Ages for babies: This is so simple, it can be given at 6-8 months as a puree, adding some of the cooking juices to obtain desired consistency. After 8 months, fava beans make a perfect finger food (like all beans).

Prep time - 30 minutes (shelling and peeling the beans does take a while... a great activity for meditation, relaxation, or chatting with a good friend!)
Cook time - 45-50 minutes


1 guinea fowl
4 lbs fava beans in pods (yields about 13 oz of cooked beans)
Olive oil
Fresh thyme
Italian parsley, finely chopped
Salt & pepper

In a Dutch oven, heat some olive oil at medium-high heat and brown the guinea fowl on all sides.
Sprinkle with thyme leaves, parsley, salt & pepper.

Add 1 1/2 cup of hot water, cover and simmer over low-medium heat for about 35 minutes, checking from time to time there's still a little liquid in the bottom of the pan.

Meanwhile, shell and peel the fava beans, by removing the outer skin (see pictures above), so you're left with the darker green bean. (*You could do the shelling/peeling ahead of time, dramatically reducing the prep time on the day you make this).

When the guinea fowl has been cooking for about 35 minutes, add the fava beans in the cooking juices with the guinea fowl, cover and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until the beans are tender.


 
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5 comments:

  1. I don't think I've tried guinea fowl before but I'm interested in trying. Your dish is very simple and I like how you bring the natural flavor from the ingredients. Very similar to how I enjoy food!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let me know what you think if you give it a try! So often, simple is just better, isn't it?

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  2. I never tried guinea fowl, but I bet it is deliciously gamy

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  3. Hi

    I have read 2 of your posts so far and must say i just LOVE your blog! :) I can so feel what you're saying about Life and trying to find that peaceful BALANCE, but most of all getting depro and frustrated about not feeling like I have found any sort of Balance at all...

    I have found a new vegetable though, at our local "farmers' market" - Celeriac. WOW!! What it does to soups and stews is close to magic!! I am looking forward to growing some of our own!

    I'm from South Africa and we have MANY guinea fowl here, but nobody really eats them... looks like we should really try.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, so glad we were able to connect from South Africa to Southern California (via France)! Blogging is very cool that way, isn't it? We do love celeriac/celery root, I have a few recipes with it if you're looking. You are right, it is incredible in soups, also excellent in a puree (with truffle oil if you can find it!) The puree would actually go nicely with this guinea fowl too. Let me know what you think if you try it!

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