The perfect Christmas dinner for two, festive roast poussin with a cranberry, bacon and pistachio stuffing can easily be doubled or multiplied up to serve more.
Here in the UK, poussin are small young chickens which are less than 28 days old at slaughter and usually weighing 400–450g (14–16 oz) but not above 750g (26 oz).
Sometimes called spring chickens but that term usually refers to slightly larger and old chicken weighing about 750–850 g (26–30 oz).
In the United States, poussin is an alternative name for a Rock Cornish game hen, which is twice as old and twice as large as the typical British poussin.
Roast for one or two
Their size makes them perfect for a single serving. While it might seem extravagant to serve a whole bird per person there is only a small amount of flesh to bones on a poussin so its not as much meat as first appears.
Because poussin is always cooked on the bone, the meat will stay moist with a full yet delicate flavour. They make a much more sophisticated and tasty alternative to standard chicken which is ideal for a special occasion such as Christmas.
If you have a small appetite then 1 poussin may be enough for two people, but that is certainly not the case in our household! Given that this dish is not meant as an everyday meal I suggest you keep to one per person.
Any left over poussin can be used to make a soup or stock.
Ive made this a recipe for two people but if there are more of you the recipe is very easy to multiply up to serve more.
Cranberry, bacon and pistachio stuffing
Poussin are perfect for stuffing and to give this poussin a festive flavour, I have stuffed the birds with a breadcrumb stuffing flavoured with nuts, bacon and cranberries. A little orange zest, juice, garlic and thyme add extra flavour.
Poussin are quite lean and although cooking on the bone helps to keep the meat moist, I have covered the birds with a little foil to begin with and then I baste the birds with a little sherry and orange juice part way through the cooking. This also helps to produce delicious juices to spoon over the bird when serving.
Poussin is often covered with bacon during roasting but I've left it off adding it instead to the stuffing. If you want extra bacon serve with Pigs in blankets after all it is Christmas!
It doesn't need a gravy, simply spoon any juices over before serving or why not try with my easy red wine jus.
How to cook festive roast poussin step by step
Festive Roast Poussin
- 2 oven ready poussin
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp sherry
- ½ orange juice only
for the stuffing
- 25 g butter
- 1 shallot chopped
- 2 rashers streaky bacon chopped
- 1 clove garlic chopped
- 50 g fresh breadcrumbs
- 25 g pistachios chopped
- 2 tbsp dried cranberries chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme chopped or ½tsp dried
- ½ orange zest and juice
- Preheat the oven to 200℃ (180℃ fan)/400°F/gas mark 6. Remove any trussing from the poussin and place in a roasting tin.
Make the stuffing
- Melt 25g (1oz) butter in a saucepan and gently fry 1 chopped shallot for 2–3 minutes until softened. Add 2 chopped rashers of streaky bacon and fry 3 minutes then add 1 chopped garlic clove and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
- Add 50g (½ cup) fresh breadcrumbs, 25g (scant ¼ cup) chopped pistachio, 2 tbsp chopped dried cranberries, 1 tsp chopped thyme, and the grated zest and juice of ½ an orange. Season with salt and pepper and mix well.
- Spoon the stuffing into the body cavities of the poussin. Drizzle each poussin with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Cover loosely with foil and roast for 20 minutes..
- Remove the foil and drizzle 1 tbsp sherry over each bird and then the juice of ½ and orange. return to the oven and bake for a further 25 minutes until golden and cooked through. Allow to rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.
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