Guinea fowl in three dishes, the latest magic trick at Osteria Francescanas

In Bottura’s new menu in Modena, the precious bird is the trait d'union between the legendary Cantarelli and the Far East

13-02-2019 | 12:00

«Yes, we’re calmer now». After leaving the agones of the World’s 50Best, and entering with good reason the Hall of Fame of the popular global list, at Osteria Francescana Massimo Bottura and Beppe Palmieri can keep on doing what they have always done: offering memorable meals. Except now they are in a more comfortable position, because they have already reached every possible goal.

There can be many reasons behind leadership – or many that give a right to a place among the best. Here’s one: the ability to extend the horizons of a dish and a pairing through adventures in space and time. Every course is a window overlooking the world and the values of different influences. However, it sheds a light aimed close, on ingredients and great protagonists of the present and the past of Modena and Emilia. An open-mindedness of rare synthesis, with regards to one’s culture, and other cultures too.

PAIRING NUMBER ONE. Ribolla from Damijan Podversic

PAIRING NUMBER ONE. Ribolla from Damijan Podversic

The Faraona in 3 servizi is a sequence of three dishes that has become part of the music score in Via Stella for three months now. It starts with Ribolla from Damijan Podversic, which according to Palmieri is the legitimate heir of Josko Gravner, a vintner whom he’s not afraid to include «among the 3 greatest in the world, with Jean Louis Chave and Cristiana Tiberio». It will act as an acid and mineral picklock in contrast with the starchy, sweet and sapid notes of the first two thirds of the journey. A common style, for the maître, who’s more and more inclined to make choices that oppose, instead of accommodate.

The guinea-fowl is a fetish-ingredient for Bottura (Non-roasted guinea fowl, the broth with his famous tortellini, just to name two dishes) but this time the mental hyperspace of the chef is a place where the precious hen meets the legendary Cantarellis and the Far East, in an exercise of criticism that gives important updates to a rigorous classic. Let’s see.

DISH NUMBER ONE. Chinese dumpling filled with roasted potatoes between a guinea fowl "bisque" and a Parmigiano brittle 

DISH NUMBER ONE. Chinese dumpling filled with roasted potatoes between a guinea fowl "bisque" and a Parmigiano brittle 

RAVIOLO. «Our chef de partie for the first courses is Choi, from Korea», the three-starred chef starts to unfold the story. «He used to work as second in Singapore at André [a glorious restaurant that closed 11 months ago] when he asked to do a trial here. We offered him to stay and work on ravioli, an emblem that unites the East and the West».

The starting point for this dish is a Chinese dumpling which however has a trace of potatoes, as requested by the traditional ravioli of Parma, the province of Peppinoand Mirella Cantarelli, two pioneers in the fine dining scene of Emilia. «I celebrated my 8th birthday in their trattoria in Samboseto», the chef recalls, «back in 1970. One of their most extraordinary dishes was Guinea fowl cooked in clay, a specialty that I later interpreted at Trattoria del Campazzo, with Lidia Cristoni. Mirella didn’t roast it. She kept it in clay for 4 hours, then broke the shell and extracted the super-juicy meat».

So the first dish of the guinea fowl tryptic is triple Chinese ravioli, filled with roasted potatoes and topped with a Parmigiano Reggiano brittle. They complete it at the table with a superb juice of carcasses of guinea fowl, boiled and roasted, using water in the process. We beg to leave that little jug of guinea fowl “bisque” at the table, but it’s soon time to savour the next step.

DISH NUMBER TWO. Guinea fowl filled with Bollito not boiled 

DISH NUMBER TWO. Guinea fowl filled with Bollito not boiled 

GUINEA FOWL WITH BOLLITO. «We opened the guinea fowl, took the parts richer in gelatine from the Bollito non boiled [the famous signature dish made of different cuts of meat cooked at low temperature] and we put them inside, as if it were a Peking duck. We closed the guinea fowl and roasted it. The part rich in gelatine helps the weak point of the roasted guinea fowl: when the legs are cooked, the breast is not ready yet; when the breast is ready, the legs are raw. But our guinea fowl is protected by the gelatine that melts inside…». 

The breast stuffed with bollito is finished with celeriac purée, cream of aromatic herbs and apple mostarda. On top, chips of chestnuts and black truffle which recall (in an edible version) the clay used by the Cantarellis. A marvel.

PAIRING NUMBER TWO. Chestnut and juniper beer from Beltaine

PAIRING NUMBER TWO. Chestnut and juniper beer from Beltaine

After the one-two, Palmieri paves the way for the last of the 3 steps with a fresh and accommodating Beer with chestnuts and juniper which the guys from Beltaine make in the nearby experimental-training park in Granaglione. The chestnuts, smoked in chestnut wood and wild juniper, prepare for the final step.

DISH NUMBER THREE. Guinea fowl skin with liver pâté and chocolate, quince apple savor and black truffle 

DISH NUMBER THREE. Guinea fowl skin with liver pâté and chocolate, quince apple savor and black truffle 

PREDESSERT. A disk with a diameter of 3 cm lands on the table: on the base, there’s the crispy skin of the guinea fowl (!), «brushed obsessively so it becomes transparent». On top, liver pâté with criollo chocolate, quince apple savor and black truffle. «This way, we even used the entrails of the guinea fowl, the only part that were left over», ends Bottura. So the last piece is placed in this compendium of history, culture and global techniques. «I just did with you what my grandmother did with me: I didn’t allow you to get up, until you had finished everything…». Honestly, there was no risk we would leave too early.

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso

Massimo Bottura and Beppe Palmieri, a relationship almost 20-years long. Massimo Bottura will speak at the Identità Milano congress

Massimo Bottura and Beppe Palmieri, a relationship almost 20-years long. Massimo Bottura will speak at the Identità Milano congress


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