A poussin is a young chicken weighing between 400g and 550g. The meat has a delicate flavour, not dissimilar to chicken, and is tender and succulent in texture. Waitrose sell a range of fresh poussin, reared by a specialist producer in small flocks on selected farms in the UK. The birds are fed on a cereal-based diet which contains no antibiotic growth promoters or routine veterinary preparations.
Whole fresh British poussin are available in 2 sizes: a single bird weighing 500g to serve 2, and a twin-pack with 2 individual 400g servings. In addition, a ready-prepared fresh British whole part-boned and stuffed poussin with lemon, parsley and thyme sausagemeat stuffing (where only the drumsticks remain) and a spatchcock poussin (where the bird is split, flattened and skewered), garnished with fresh herbes de Provence, are also available.
Uses: Whole or boned and stuffed poussin are usually roasted, while spatchcocked birds can be grilled or barbecued as well. Poussin offer a quick-to-cook alternative to roasting a chicken, as well as being an ideal and impressive main course for entertaining. Allow one large whole bird, boned and stuffed bird or spatchcocked bird between 2, or 2 smaller whole birds as individual servings.
To store: Keep refrigerated below 4°C. Keep covered and store at the bottom of the fridge. Once opened, consume within 2 days. Do not exceed the use-by date. Poussin can be frozen on the day of purchase in a four star food freezer or three star frozen food compartment at -18 C or colder. Use within one month. Defrost fully in the fridge before use and do not refreeze once thawed. Wash all work surfaces, chopping boards, utensils and hands thoroughly after touching raw meat.
To prepare: Poussin are quite lean and should be basted during cooking to prevent them from drying out. They can also be wrapped in streaky bacon before roasting. To spatchcock a poussin, remove any trussing bands and place breast-side down on a chopping board. Using a sharp knife, cut through the centre of the underside of the bird. Turn the poussin over and using the heel of the hand, press along the breast bone to flatten the bird. To hold the spatchcocked bird in place, push 2 bamboo skewers, 1 from each side, diagonally through the leg, breast and wing.
To cook: For best results, bake in the oven, gently brush the poussin with a little melted butter or oil. Place in a roasting tray in the centre of a preheated oven at 200°C, gas mark 6 for 40 minutes for the spatchcocked bird, 40-45 minutes for the smaller whole bird, 45-50 minutes for the larger whole bird, and 55-60 minutes for the part-boned and stuffed bird, basting occasionally. Check that the poussin is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. The bird is cooked when the juices run clear and there is no pink meat. Allow to stand for 10 minutes in a warm place before serving.
To grill or barbecue, gently brush the spatchcock poussin with a little melted butter or oil. Place under a preheated medium grill or on a preheated barbecue for 30 minutes, turning frequently. Take extra care when barbecuing. Check that the poussin is cooked by piercing the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer. The bird is cooked when the juices run clear and there is no pink meat. Allow to stand for 10 minutes in a warm place before serving. Cool any leftovers to room temperature, refrigerate within 2 hours and consume within 2 days.
To serve, for whole birds, remove any trussing bands and carve as you would a chicken. With a part-boned and stuffed bird, remove the trussing band from around the drumsticks and the skewer from underneath the bird. Cut the poussin in half lengthways and serve one half per person. Alternatively, carve in thick slices across the width of the poussin until only the drumsticks remain. Separate the drumsticks and serve one per person. With a spatchcocked bird, remove the skewers and cut in half along the breast bone. Serve one half per person.