Poussin is a word which can have varied chicken related meanings in different parts of the world. In this particular recipe, it refers simply to a very small chicken of no particular breed. These young birds are generally extremely tender but are not cooked in any way differently from larger chickens. The serving suggestion here sees the potato skins used as well as the main body of the potato, both to cut down on waste and add some additional texture to the dish.
Roast poussin served on a bed of mustard and cilantro mash with spicy chickpeas and potato skins
A poussin of this size should serve two people with the accompaniments described below. In this instance, the meal was being prepared to feed only one person, so the leftover chicken meat was refrigerated for later alternative use.
Ingredients (Serves 1 with Leftovers)
- 1 fresh poussin (around 1 pound in weight)
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 1 large baking potato
- Small can (8 ounces) chickpeas in water
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Dijon or similar mustard
- 2 teaspoons freshly chopped cilantro (coriander leaf), plus extra to garnish
The formula regarding the cooking time for chicken is twenty minutes per pound and twenty minutes extra. As this bird weighed exactly one pound, the cooking time was forty minutes, in an oven preheated to 400F/200C/Gas Mark 6.
Remove the bird from any packaging and be sure to also remove any trussing elastic which may be present. Chop off the pygostyle (parson's/pope's nose) and discard.
Season the cavity of the chicken well with salt and pepper. Lay it on a roasting tray and drizzle with olive oil. Rub the oil evenly over the breasts and thighs with your hand. Season the skin with some more salt. Put the tray in to your preheated oven for the allotted cooking time.
Trim the end pieces of the potato as shown in the above image and discard these small pieces of skin only.
Complete the peeling of the potato, trying to remove the skin in evenly sized strips around three-quarters of an inch in width. You may find it easier to use a suitable knife for this job rather than a dedicated vegetable peeler.
Put the potato skins in to a bowl of cold water to prevent them discoloring and set aside until required.
Cut the peeled potato in to large chunks and add to a pot with plenty of cold water. Season with salt. The pot should go on to a high heat about twenty minutes before the chicken is scheduled to come out of the oven until the water begins to simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer for about twenty minutes until the pieces are just softened.
When the poussin comes out of the oven, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a metal skewer right through to the bone. The juices should run clear. If not, cook for five more minutes and test again.
Lift the poussin from the roasting tray with a large pair of cooking tongs to a heated plate. Lay it on the plate breasts side down to prevent the breast meat drying out. Cover with foil and allow to rest for ten minutes.
Pat the potato skins dry with kitchen paper. If they have any surface moisture, this will cause sputtering when they are added to the frying oil.
Deep fry the potato skins for about three minutes in moderately hot oil in the first instance before lifting to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain and partially cool.
Wash the chickpeas of their canning impurities through a colander under running cold water.
Put the chickpeas in to a small pot with the turmeric and add some cold water, ensuring they are all comfortably covered. Bring the water to a simmer for a couple of minutes, just to heat them through.
Drain the potatoes through a colander and allow them to steam off for two or three minutes. If you mash them straight away, the mash will contain too much moisture and be excessively soggy.
Be sure to mash the potatoes with a hand masher rather than in a food processor or similar device. Otherwise, they will become pureed.
Add the mustard and cilantro to the mashed potatoes and stir very well to evenly combine.
Deep fry the potato skins for a second time in hot oil for a couple of minutes until crisp and drain again on kitchen paper.
Lift the rested poussin to a chopping board and sit it breasts side up this time. Cut off the legs and wings at the joints with the main body.
Carefully slice the breast fillets from the chicken, starting either side of the breast bone and allowing the ribs to guide your knife.
Spoon the mash in to a deep serving plate and flatten it out a little to serve as a bed for the meat.
Cut one of the chicken legs through the joint to separate the leg and thigh. Slice a breast fillet in half at an angle and arrange the pieces on top of the mustard mash.
Drain the chickpeas through a colander and spoon them all the way around the mash. Arrange the potato skins around the edge of the plate and garnish with the last of the cilantro.