Spring Chicken

I like to think of myself as a Spring Chicken. However, a Spring Chicken in poultry terms is a baby chicken aka a Poussin or a Game Hen in the U.S. (although I thought they called them Game Heads which seemed odd but I didn’t question it).

Anyway I was at a restaurant a few months back and ordered a quail stuffed with feta and bacon. I was really disappointed when it arrived stuffed full of bulgar wheat. I couldn’t taste any cheese or bacon – and trust me my taste buds are highly attuned to both! So this is basically how I would have done it. Albeit with a different bird and stuffing!

This turned out deliciously zingy and would make a nice springtime dish. I’m thinking I might add raisins to the stuffing or try goat’s cheese instead of feta. You can use the stuffing in a chicken breast as well but Poussins are just a little different and surprisingly cheap cheap :-).

Poussin Stuffed with Feta, Spinach and Pine Nuts
Serves 2

Ingredients
For the chicken:
– 100g washed spinach
– 2 handfuls of pine nuts
– 1 block of feta cheese (200g)
– Zest of ½ lemon
– Pepper
– 2 Poussins
– Olive oil
– Salt

For the potato stack
– 1 baking potato
– 15g butter
– 1 clove of garlic

For the asparagus
– Bunch of asparagus
– 15g butter
– Drizzle of olive oil

Method
1. Preheat your oven to 190°/Gas Mark 5. Steam the spinach in a steamer or bamboo basket over a saucepan of water. This should just take a few minutes. At the same time dry roast the pine nuts in a pan for a couple of minutes making sure they do not burn. As soon as they start to colour, take them off of the heat.

2. Open the block of feta and mash it up in a bowl. Add the pine nuts, lemon zest and a few grinds of pepper and mix. When the spinach has cooled, squeeze it well to get rid of as much water as you can then finely chop it and mix it in with the rest of the feta mix. This is your stuffing!

3. Now open up your little birds and remove any butchers string. Stuff them with the cheese mix as much as you can, then drizzle a little olive oil over them and season with some salt and pepper.  Now just roast them for 50 minutes in the oven. Baste them from time to time when they are cooking so they don’t dry out.

4. Whilst the chickens were in the oven I made a potato stack and some asparagus to serve with it. For the stack I slice a baking potato as thinly as I can and then use a cookie cutter to cut out round discs from the slices. I thinly slice some butter and a garlic clove and stack the discs into a muffin tray. A slice of butter first and then potatoes one on top of each other with a small square of butter in between. On the second to last slice I also add a garlic clove before topping with the final potato disc and a small square of butter. Secure the stacks in place with a cocktail stick and put in the oven for 35 minutes.

5. For the asparagus just heat the butter in a griddle pan and add the asparagus along with a drizzle of olive oil over the top. Cook for 5 minutes or so until the asparagus is golden.

6. Check that your Poussins are ready. Since they are stuffed they may take a little longer than 50 minutes. Then just let them rest for 10 minutes before serving.

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