Poussin with garlic, lemon and shallots – One per person and be sure to chill the wine.

Poussin with garlic (8 of 8)One of the great pleasures of the week is ‘Family Dinner’. We have this every Sunday evening. All are welcome and there is shame felt by any family member who “can’t make it”, no matter what the excuse. For over 20 years, my Mum has joined us for this weekly occasion. Her place is, rightly, at the head of the table and she has dispenses great wit, wisdom and example to the younger generations.

This week’s dinner was heading for a bit of a disaster. Youngest has abandoned the family unit to develop her life in Canada (Skype calls just aren’t the same as having her smiling face at the table). Eldest decided that visiting a comic convention in the north of England was a better idea than showing up for this family tradition. This left me with three mouths to feed. Having never cooked them before, I thought we would give Poussin with Garlic, Lemon and Shallots a go. I served it with Baked Rosemary Potatoes – a very good combination. 

While we were eating, Mum was reminded of a meal she had some decades ago and the first time she was served ‘poussin’. She and Dad had been invited to dinner in a teetotal house where they rarely cooked for guests. Each bemused diner was served with a pile of vegetables and a full, large chicken on their plate. The host assuring the aghast guests; “As you know, we don’t drink ourselves but don’t worry, the white wine has been warming by the fire.” Hot white wine and a whole chicken each! We will try to be a bit more civilised.

Ingredients – for the Poussin

  • 3 poussin
  • 3 bulbs of garlic
  • 6 to 9 shallots
  • 1 lemon
  • 250 ml good chicken stock
  • Salt and pepper to season

Ingredients – for the potatoes

  • Potatoes for three people
  • Plenty of rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to season
  • Olive oil to drizzle

Take the elastic string off the poussin and pin the legs together, using two cocktail sticks per bird.

Using my hands for scale - These are little birds.

Using my hands for scale – These are little birds.

Heat a little oil in an ovenproof baking dish. Season the birds and brown them on as many sides as their awkward shape will allow.

They look like synchronised swimmers, the little darlings (NOT starlings).

They look like synchronised swimmers, the little darlings (NOT starlings).

Slice the garlic bulbs across the middle, peel the shallots and slice the lemon into three or four pieces.

Yes, that's an awful lot of garlic. Wait 'til you taste it. Delicious.

Yes, that’s an awful lot of garlic. Wait ’til you taste it. Delicious.

Place all these in the bottom of the baking dish. Place the browned birds on top.

The little poussin will stay moist and absorb the flavours as they roast.

The little poussin will stay moist and absorb the flavours as they roast.

Pour about half of the chicken stock in and place in a 180º C (350º F) oven for 35 minutes. Prepare the potatoes by chopping them into small pieces, drizzling with olive oil and applying the rosemary, salt and pepper.

For instructional purposes only. This is what the potatoes look like before roasting.

For instructional purposes only. This is what the potatoes look like before roasting.

Put these in the oven at the same time as the poussin. After 35 minutes, take the cooked poussin out and turn the heat up to 200º, turning on the fan.

They cook in no time at all. They smell delicious at this stage.

They cook in no time at all. They smell delicious at this stage.

This is to finish the potatoes. While this is going on, take the poussin, garlic, shallots and lemon out of the dish. Add the rest of the stock and then reduce this gravy, over a high heat, by half. Strain and serve over the bird, garlic, shallots and potatoes.

The gravy is lemony, garlicky, chickeny and delicious.

The gravy is lemony, garlicky, chickeny and delicious.

Do cook this simple dish. Don’t skimp on the garlic. It is beautiful squashed with a fork and mixed into the gravy. I know that might seem like too much garlic for some of you. Try it and be converted. Just be sure to chill the wine and get a poussin rather than a 1.5 kilo chicken for each of your guests.

Written by
No comments
  • Marvellous meal, nothing to beat roast chicken of whatever size, but these are elegantly petite, and such a treat to have one all to oneself…

    • A pleasure indeed Kate. Though, the thought of having eaten a whole chicken is a bit off-putting.

  • Stop tempting me with your fancy meats. I will stay frugal. I will stay frugal.

    • Sorry Nick. I can’t really make any argument for frugality on this one.

  • My children (and us big folks) would love to each have one of their own. Do you deliver?

    • Yes, I do deliver. But, the Aran Islands? Give me a break!
      Best,
      Conor

  • This made me chuckle trying to envision the large chickens on the plate and hot wine. Oh my. Best intentions and all that. It’s hard as the kids grow up and they start having their own social ideas. Then they fly the coop! Thank goodness for technology. When I flew the coop we had to be content with snail mail. Now we can FaceTime or Skype. Lovely dish.

    • Hi Virginia,
      Thanks be to goodness the chickens didn’t fly the coop. There would be no FaceTime with them!

  • My mom used to make us individual chickens as a great treat once in a rare while (we call them Rock Cornish Game Hens, and they are pricey). I’ll have to keep this recipe in mind, should we get any pheasant, grouse, or quail.

    • That’s a great idea Amber, a three bird roast of pheasant, grouse and quail. All stuffed with garlic and served like above. Pricy but tasty.
      Best,
      C

      • If we shoot them, they’re more or less free 🙂 Minus the cost of the permit, that is.

  • Oh, family meals on Sunday’s , how I miss them. I’m the one that left and moved to a different continent. Those little birds look tasty, I like the extra garlic.

    • Sorry for sparking that bit of anxiety Gerlinde. We are excited here as our youngest is visiting for a few days later this week. She has a list of “family dinners” prepared for me to cook. I’m happy to oblige.

  • I hope your kids carry it on- it’s a wonderful tradition and this a wonderful meal to share with them and us:)- I hope there was a big round of crusty bread for that beautiful bulb of garlic!

    • Thanks Wendy,
      I would be surprised if they don’t. On the garlic, I squeezed it with a fork, into the gravy, and stirred it until it incorporated. Delicious!

  • There’s no such thing as too much garlic – the poussin sound delicious. The tea totalers might have got the white wine wrong, but you have to give them points for trying 😉

    • Points is all you could give them MD. The little chickens were very tasty indeed.

      • Ha ha – i would have been scared to go in case they only served lemonade!

        • I think a nice lemonade would beat a hot white any day.

          • maybe…

  • Could one cook a (single) full-sized chicken this way or would the potatoes overcook? I believe the farmers in my area prefer to let their chickens live a full long life rather than selling them small.

    • I have no problem cooking potatoes this way with a large chicken. They do indeed end up very soft. But, they have absorbed lots of chicken juices and the flavours are be wonderful.

  • Loved “the white wine has been warming by the fire.” And, the whole chickens being served to each at the table! Reminds me of a story on artichokes…Might have to tell that story in a future post! This dish looks lovely! One to try here at home! Thanks Conor, my best to you and be well… ^..^

    • I think I will have to reconsider attending yours for dinner Barb. Particularly if this sort of practice is what you get up to!
      Best,
      C

      • Wait until artichokes come into season here, and I will do a post on the story…but you are always welcome at our table and home should you decide to investigate the small Sierra Foothills town of Placerville…. 🙂

  • Such a beautiful meal and to share it with your family, although they were a bit scattered about. I just know they missed out.
    You know, I think there was a day when I could have eaten a whole chicken, but it would have to be fried with a really crispy breading and have some pepper-vinegar to pour over it.
    I really should not read your posts before my lunch time. I am now starving!!!!

    • I love it when my posts get this sort of thinking going Debbie. Throw on into that Mountain Kitchen oven and have a nice dinner!

  • OMG that garlic. I love it. I saw poussin last night and almost made it, but I wanted to try my hand at deboning a cornish hen first. I was thinking of you yesterday. I’m making baccolo and the recipe called for boiling it 3 times for 20 mins, but in my fish store days we just dehydrated it in huge garbage pails for days. That’s what i’m doing. I soaked it over night, changing the water twice and I’m hoping to have it for dinner tonight. Maybe I’ll boil it right before I cook it. If i recall, the smell is awful. Tips?

    • Arrrrggggggghhhhhhhh! Don’t boil it. The soaking should be plenty to get rid of the excess salt and to reconstitute it enough to be delicious. Just cook it enough to warm it through. It has been properly preserved in the salt and only needs gentle cooking. I love it and must cook it again soon.

      • Thank you! I have no idea why Food and Wine says to boil it. It wasn’t my training. I hope I haven’t ruined it already. Ugh. I’ll just sear it quickly before I serve. I’ll post it on Wednesday or Thursday for your critique.

  • Yet another bird I haven’t tried.

  • Super supper!! Where do you get your Poussin Conor my man?

    • Hi Rory,
      Fenelons, where else?
      They have a decent selection of game birds too. I am saving to buy one…

      • You should check out their Rabbit Conor, it’s next on my list!

        • I have it in a sobrasada stew already. Boom! Posting soon.

  • Utterly delicious. I’ve just got home after driving to London and back in a hired van (which I crashed into our gate post on the very last leg of the journey) and I would LOVE to have that served up to me now instead of the baked potatoes and leftovers which are actually all we have the energy to knock up.

    • Thanks Linda. I was at a meeting in Co. Meath earlier this evening and only managed a crusty sandwich myself. A day of bad eating and tiredness for both of us. I hope the gatepost wasn’t damaged.

      • Thanks, the van came off worst. Well, my bank account came off worst, actually. 🙁

  • Actually methinks your Mother’s friends at least tried with the whole bird [be it the wrong size] and wine they did not drink! Probably a lot of GB at the time did not – OK, change heat for ‘room’ and one is almost there! Would have loved to have been at your table with this one tho’ 🙂 !!

    • Thanks Eha. Though we are Ireland and have always drunk a lot!
      Best,
      C

  • “Hot white wine and a whole chicken each!” Haven’t been there, exactly… but close enough, sadly. Glad you were able to fix it for your mum!

    • Thanks Michelle,
      Mum certainly rules the roost, if you will pardon the awful pun.

  • Hmm, I have never seen a poussin in the States. It seems all they do here recently is raise them until they are the size of small turkeys, and inject them with so much artificial stuff we are ending up with one-pound chicken breasts, and that is WITHOUT bones or skin! I’m trying to buy organic chickens more, as I can find them. Glad y’all had a nice dinner, even without the young’uns. 🙂

    • We did indeed. What you describe is awful. Thankfully, free range is available here easily and at only a small premium to battery. We will make up for the young ‘uns absence this week as she is coming home for a short break.

  • Lovely!

  • Yes, please!

  • Lovely picture in my mind of the chicken and warm white wine. I once had a disaster with a gigot which I served nearly raw as opposed to pink. I served with a Jansen’s Temptation, a potato gratin with the addition of anchovies. I forgot what I was doing and added salt as well! A disastrous dinner for which our guest wrote a thank you note saying “Many thanks…just how I like my dinner, underdone and salty”. Noblesse oblige:)

  • Wonderful, Conor! At least they served it with white wine rather than red, but warming white wine by the fire is only a good idea if it came from the fridge (too cold!) and for a brief time only (10-12 degrees is perfect for most whites). Love the poussin ‘placing shot’!

    • I just came across your blog and I really like your approach to good food. There are not enough blogs that represent food the way it should be represented and too many blogs with fancy photos and minimalist plates. What happened to the old way of cooking ? I will be visiting your blog regularly. I already do a version of this dish. I’m Dublin born myself and did my apprenticeship in the Gresham Hotel in from 1962. Keep up the good work.

  • Gorgeous Meal Conor! I love the petite little individual birds with that delicate garlic, rosemary juices. Love this simple but elegant meal and I will be sure to chill the wine! Take care, BAM

  • delicious!

    • Thanks Brian. I enjoyed cooking this one.

  • This is just a liiiittle bit fancier than our general family dinners of overdone roast beef, haha (though my dad did a rather special roast turkey leg in the microwave. It, uh, exploded). I am yet to try poussin but yours look delicious Conor. Perfect with a glass of chilled white!

    • I love the thought of the turkey explosion. A good enough reason to avoid it altogether.
      Best,
      C

  • I just came across your blog and I really like your approach to good food. There are not enough blogs that represent food the way it should be represented and too many blogs with fancy photos and minimalist plates. What happened to the old way of cooking ? I will be visiting your blog regularly. I already do a version of this dish. I’m Dublin born myself and did my apprenticeship in the Gresham Hotel in from 1962. Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you so much for that kind comment. I worked on the Gresham Hotel advertising account for a couple of years in a former life. It was a truly grand hotel back in the day. If you find yourself back in Dublin, we could have a quick one in Toddy’s Bar.

Join the conversation, you know you want to....

%d bloggers like this: