This recipe comes courtesy of Giorgio Barchiesi, known to Italian foodies as Giorgione, whose Gambero Rosso-produced cooking program Giorgione, Orto e Cucina (‘garden and kitchen’) has garnered a large and loyal following here. Beloved by his fans for his simple, fresh dishes—mostly pasta, with sauces made from vegetables just-picked from his home garden in Umbria—Giorgione embodies the antithesis of those uber-elegant, professionally-trained chefs who, with their spotless aprons and bleached-sterile counter tops, make such a fuss over presentation. Don’t get me wrong: the artistry of cooking is relevant, to be sure. But there’s nothing more irksome than waiting for a celebrity chef to finish carving dainty lemon cups, or take ten minutes to arrange two chive sprigs, or go all O.C.D.-like while drizzling some reduction or other on a white plate.
Giorgione’s having none of it. His recipes are easy to follow, practical, and realistically presented; his ingredients are few, fresh, harmonized; and his personal style is disarmingly laid-back. Watching him lug his painstakingly cared-for veggies into his country kitchen, or drip sauce on the counter, or burn his tongue in his impatience to sample his creation, wins me over again and again. Really, who can resist a man who forages for mushrooms and sings to his chickens?
I love that Giorgione markets his persona on his own terms—he is a farmer, after all; why shouldn’t a farmer wear denim overalls on television?—yet undoubtedly he and his producers are aware of how very astutely they have tapped into the Italian fascination with anything old-worldly or peasant-like. The more modern Italy becomes, the more it seems Italians crave and cling to anything that smacks of the traditional, homespun, old-fashioned—how nonna did things, in short. The Gambero Rosso channel’s promo for ‘Orto e Cucina‘, in fact, plays on this pull between rustic and refined. Barchiesi himself brings a winning touch of self-effacement to the spot. You’ve got to watch it!
This recipe of Giorgione’s for roasted guinea fowl (faraona in Italian) got my attention immediately with its curious blend of aromas: orange zest, black truffle, some pork fat, sage and rosemary.
1 guinea fowl, preferably young (12 weeks and up), approximately 1-1.25 kilos (2¼ to 3 pounds)
6 or 7 black truffle slices*
A few slices of lardo di Colonnata, if you can get it (see Emiko Davies’s gorgeous post for more on Tuscan lardo). Thinly sliced pancetta will also work.
1 orange slice
1 sage leaf
1 rosemary sprig
ground black pepper
Giorgione says to clean and eviscerate the guinea fowl, leaving it whole (obviously we mere mortals will have our butcher do this).
Heat the oven to 190° C (375° F). Line a roasting pan with a large sheet of aluminum foil, enough for the sides to meet and close over the entire fowl. Place the fowl inside.
In a bowl combine the salt, pepper and orange zest (‘not too much’ zest, says Giorgione; I used about half of a large orange’s zest). Beat one slice of lardo or pancetta until it starts to break apart. Using your fingers, work the fat into the salt, pepper and zest until you have a chunky paste. With this, rub the inside of the bird’s body cavity, and leave what remains inside. Add one orange slice to the inside of the bird.
Now rub down the outside of the fowl with salt and pepper. If your truffles are whole, thinly slice one (you should have 5-7 slices, depending on the size of the truffle). Put half inside the bird. Add one sprig of rosemary and one sage leaf (Giorgione is very clear about this—only one of each). Thinly slice the rest of the lardo, and cover the outside of the fowl with these and the remaining truffle slices. Drizzle the entire bird with a bit of olive oil. Now seal up the foil and roast for about 45 minutes.
*Truffles are obviously not commonly found in the average pantry. They are an investment, a treat for special occasions, although admittedly here in Tuscany the business of truffle hunting and selling gives us an immediate advantage (for Giorgione even more so in Umbria) when it comes to cost and availability. For this recipe, I purchased a 30-gram jar of Savini brand black summer truffle slices for 17 euros. I’ve seen the same or similar jars going for 40 to 60 dollars in the U.S. While an Italian would scoff, and a Frenchman probably keel over outright, I see no reason not to try, at least once, the much less expensive Chinese varieties available in stores. Just make sure they are packed in nothing other than salt and water or oil. Avoid truffle products whose label includes ‘essence of’ or ‘natural flavoring.’