I shouldn’t be allowed to go into supermarkets on my own. At least not into nice ones like Sainsbury’s. Tescos is probably safe enough if I avoid the world foods aisle – which also contains their specialist cooking ingredients. Or even the little Morrisons in Banchory as it’s got a pretty sparse range of food.
The other day I went to Sainsbury’s to pick up some cat litter and returned home with 2 poussins and a couple of tins of chestnuts. Not to mention the tub of deli olives, cat treats, two cat toys and the aforementioned bags of litter. There would have been more spur of the moment purchases but the beer aisle was closed.
Chestnuts weren’t so much of a problem as I’d been after some for ages but none of the other supermarkets seem to stock them. However I had no idea what to do with the poussin. Or exactly what a poussin was. Turns out it’s a very young chicken. A chick if you prefer. I decided not to mention that to Angela in case it put her off.
Once I knew that poussin is chicken and chicken is poussin then it was easier to figure out what to do. I went for the stick a lemon up its bum and roast it option as detailed in a previous post.
What to go with it? Stuffing was the obvious choice but what kind? Then I remembered I had some chestnuts and spent a good hour looking for chestnut stuffing recipes online. They all looked boringly the same. Chestnuts, bacon, sausage meat, breadcrumbs. Even the ones with cranberries didn’t look very exciting. Eventually I stumbled onto the Guardian’s recipe search and found a Bill Granger recipe which looked more interesting. He even served it alongside roasted poussin so it looked like a perfect match.
The idea of no sausagemeat sounded a bit different and the addition of torn chunks of good bread seemed great to properly soak up the gravy I was planning to pour over everything. I went for streaky bacon instead of pancetta so it would be a good excuse to have a cooked breakfast at the weekend (in the end it just got added to the bacon pile in our freezer). I also only used a tiny bit of the fennel bulb as I’m not a fan of aniseed.
Served with the stuffing, gravy and some rosemary roast tatties it was a hell of a meal. The poussin didn’t have a whole lot of flavour but it was definitely helped – as was its larger incarnation – by the addition of lemon, garlic and a bay leaf in the cavity. The portion size was great for a weekend meal and the stuffing was brilliant. I loved the chestnuts with the big croutons; which not only added texture but soaked up all the flavour from the stuffing ingredients and the gravy then unleashed them in the mouth.
2 bay leaves
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bashed
1 clove of garlic finely chopped or minced
1 onion, chopped
200g peeled and cooked chestnuts, halved
2 eggs, beaten
500ml chicken stock
Half a fresh loaf of good bread, torn into small chunks
Half a pack (6 rashers) of streaky bacon cut into lardons
Fennel bulb, chopped
Pre-heat the oven to 220C.
Tear the bread into small chunks then place them in a roasting tray, toss them in olive oil and leave in the oven for 10 minutes until they’re golden brown.
Cut the lemon into small wedges and place one into the cavity of the poussin along with some thyme, a clove of garlic and a bay leaf.
Remove the bread and leave in a mixing bowl to cool.
Place the poussins on the roasting tray and coat with olive oil, pepper and plenty of salt to crisp up the skin.
Put the birds into the oven for 15-20 mins.
Fry the bacon lardons until they’re just turning crispy then add the onion and fennel and lower the heat so they soften gently.
Add the chopped garlic and cook for a further minute before adding the bacon, onion, fennel and garlic to the mixing bowl with the bread.
Pour in 350ml of the stock and the beaten egg.
Add some thyme and a little seasoning then mix the lot together.
Take the birds out of the oven at this point and baste them with the juices from the bottom of the tray.
Reduce the heat of the oven to 200C and put the birds back inside.
Pour the stuffing mix into a baking tray or oven proof dish and add it to the oven.
Cook for another 20 minutes or until the birds are cooked through.
Place the birds onto a plate and leave somewhere warm to rest and then heat the roasting tray on a hob.
Deglaze with the remainder of the stock and reduce to a rich gravy.
Stir in any resting juices from the birds.
Strain the gravy into a jug.
To finish the stuffing mix it together in a bowl to break it all up and then serve with the poussins, roast tatties and gravy.