23 February 2012

Poussin Galore

If in doubt about the likes and dislikes of your dinner party or Sunday lunch guests roast chicken is always a very safe option to serve. It's high up there among the top ranking comfort foods but you do run the definite risk of being considered a little unimaginative and dare we say it boring! In a restaurant I always steer away from it for example as to us it screams default option!

Poussins on the other hand are fun to dish up. A single bird arriving on each plate has a certain medieval feast wow factor plus your dinner guests will enjoy having their very own bird all to themselves. Everybody gets everything so there will be no argument as to who gets breast, leg or wing. Starchy barriers are rapidly broken down as initial attempts to grapple with cutlery give way to fingers under your encouragement. Just make sure the table is liberally scattered with serviettes and wipes and if you want to push the boat out finger bowls might also be a novel idea.

 Poussins are young chickens and generally weigh between 400 - 500 grammes so one bird per diner is the perfect portion. Being smaller they are also quicker to cook and easier to flavour. You can fit six or eight on a single roasting tray and they will take just about an hour at a temperature of 180 C. (Always cook the meat from room temperature). The shorter roasting time also allows you to be more daring with marinades and flavours without the risk of burning the skin and the breast meat drying out. They are simplicity itself to prepare. We recommend spicing them up with a slightly unusual marinade smeared over the entire bird. You can be infinitely imaginative about this but for example dilute a little curry paste - we find bought massaman paste works well - in cooking oil and melted butter and smear over the entire bird. Alternatively try a little sweet chilli sauce. You will find the sugar content will tend to burn turning the skin much darker. If you are concerned this is happening too fast cover the birds with foil until the last 20 minutes of cooking or alternative cook the birds "up-side-down". For further flavour place a garlic clove, a baton of ginger, a quarter small onion and slice of lime or lemon inside the cavity of each bird. Finally sprinkle the skin liberally with salt and place in the oven.

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