Some time ago, I regularly used to buy ready prepared spatchcock Poussin from Gressingham, the remarkable duck people (in their own words). Well, what is remarkable about poussin is that they are, em, not a duck – but a butcher’s term for young chicken. Poussin are typically a breed that is naturally slow-growing, meaning that the meat is not only very flavoursome, but also very tender. Thinking that spatchcock-ing a bird was a highly skilled exercise in butchery, I had steered clear of attempting it my self in the fear of hacking it to the point of it looking like road kill. I then found that the task required a good pair of kitchen shears, and that was that.
A further benefit for a busy boy like me is that it takes just 45 mins to cook one of these succulent birds, making it an immediate option for an week night meal, when it takes less than 5 mins to prepare and can be ready to eat in under an hour and once in the oven, requires absolutely no effort at all. The other reason why these birds are a great choice? you can have a bit of everything. No fighting over your favourite pieces – half a bird will comfortable satisfy two people and they will get a share of everything: the leg, the wing, breast, and all the crispy goodness in-between. I remember having a great conversation with my former colleague Fikerte and we were in total agreement that the best thing about poultry was the picking up the bones and gnawing through the cartilage and skin – I am sure a nutritionist which say how wrong it it, but wow the taste is just great – even better when marinated.
If time, you can always marinate the Poussin in a polythene bag for a few hours or overnight – in reality, slapping on the garlic, lime, lemon, and Dijon mustard marinade then cooking in the oven straight after works just fine. The reason why I favour Parma ham (or other cured hams) over more traditional bacon is that it has next to no water content. Parma ham slices are added half way through cooking so that it does not dry out completely, and gives the skin on the Poussin’s breast time to brown and crisp up. The addition of Parma ham also helps to prevent the breast from drying out.
This Spatchcock Poussin with Lemon, garlic and Parma ham goes really will with so many things depending on your mood – why not try Roasted Root Vegetable Skewers, or Couscous with roasted Mediterranean vegetables?
- Zest and juice of one waxless lemon
- Zest and juice of 1 lime
- 2 medium cloves garlic, grated or crushed
- 1 x heaped tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 x corn-fed Poussin, spatchcocked
- 2 x Slices Parma ham
- 1 x tsp herbes de Provence
- Freshly milled sea salt and ground black pepper for seasoning
- Preheat oven to 200C
- Line a deep baking tray with thick tin foil, and grease lightly with oil.
- Using a pair of kitchen shears, cut from the opening of the cavity down the middle through the centre of the bird (this is the opposite side of the breast). Once you have cut through, fold the bird out (a bit like a butterfly formation) and place on the baking tray with the breast facing upwards.
- Using a zester, peel off the rind of the lemon and limes and set aside.
- Squeeze the juice from both citrus fruit, and pour into a small bowl. Add the grated garlic, Dijon mustard, herbes de provence, and mix thoroughly using a mini whisk.
- Pour the marinade over the poussin, and sprinkle on top the zest, the season well with a little salt and black pepper.
- Place in the centre of the oven for 25 mins, then remove, add a slice of Parma ham to each breast, seasn, and return to oven for a further 20 mins.