The weekend – I love how it rallies around my work-addled mind and fills it with food-driven temptations. So of course at the end of a weekend is the customary Sunday Roast.
For a change to the usual roasted chicken, I decided to roast poussins – small spring chickens. These are tender young birds full of flavour, that actually offer themselves well to a barbecue maybe with a little marinade of lemon, thyme, and olive oil or garlic, chilli, orange and oil. But today the winter sunlight is cutting through the cold blue sky and everything is covered in a crisp sheet of frost. Not the weather for barbecues. So I shall be roasting my poussins in the oven.
I grew up with a lot of chinese additions to english recipes. Here is my take on adding some interesting chinese flavours to a classic bird roast (a chickens for this recipe would be fine). The dark marinade makes the skin crispy and moorishly salty which is a great match to the moist and full-flavoured meat inside.
Ground white pepper
2 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tsp Five Spice
Handful of fresh chives
Half a cup of sherry
1 tbsp sunflower oil
Start by pre-heating the oven to 190°C.
Finely chop the chives and place in the bird cavities. If you feel daring try placing them between the meat and skin, you will have separate the skin from the breast meat at the top of the crown between the two drumsticks. Be vary careful not tear the skin.
To make the marinade, zest the skin of half an orange into a bowl, but don’t discard the orange. Add the five spice, ground pepper, soy sauce and sunflower oil then combine together with a quick stir. Then rub the marinade all over the bird. Place the orange halves into the bird cavities (including the orange skin is fine).
Set the poussins on a roasting tray and divide the sherry by tipping half, into each of the cavities – don’t worry if it drains out a little into the tin. Add a final sprinkle of salt over the skin. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes.
Serve with roasted sweet potatoes or new potatoes, and some dark green vegetables like steamed spinach or even a raw watercress and radish salad.