Spatchcocked Poussin

  • Preparation Time35 mins
  • Cooking Time50 mins
  • Serves2
  • DifficultyMedium
1-2 thick slices sourdough bread
1 poussin
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 teaspoon of paprika
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for decoration
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tablespoon golden sultanas
1 tbsp dry white vermouth or white wine
1 tbsp pine nuts
150g watercress, spinach and rocket salad or other feisty leaves
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tbsp moscatel vinegar
3 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil or good extra-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6 and leave the bread slices out on a wire rack to dry a little. To spatchcock the poussin, get some strong, sharp scissors (or poultry shears) and cut down either side of the spine, take out the spine, then press down on the breast of the poussin to open it out flat. Cut the poussin in half. Put it into a small roasting tin; you can toss in the spine to give extra flavour for the dressing later.

Drizzle over one of the tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle over the paprika and thyme sprigs and throw in the unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the poussin is reddish-gold on top, and cooked through.

Meanwhile, put the sultanas into a small pan with the vermouth (or white wine). Bring to a bubble on the hob, take off the heat and leave for about ten minutes - or, better still, leave to cool while the poussin is roasting.

Toast the pine nuts in a hot, dry frying pan until golden and put to one side. Slice the crusts off the bread and cut into croutons. Heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in the frying pan and fry the croutons until golden and crisp. Remove to a plate.

Once the bird is cooked, take the tin out of the oven and let it stand for five to ten minutes. Discard the spine and burnt thyme. While you're waiting, you can arrange the salad leaves on a couple of plates.

Whisk together the Dijon mustard, salt, vinegar and three tablespoons of the cold-pressed rapeseed or extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl, then remove the poussin and garlic cloves to a board, add the juices from the roasting tin to the dressing, and whisk again. If you want to get every last bit of pan-flavour out, add a little hot water from a recently boiled kettle and swill out the pan before adding this, too, to the dressing, then whisk in the soused sultanas.

Sit each half poussin on top of the salad on the plates and add 2 garlic cloves (provided they don't look too burnt, though scorched and caramelly is good). Give the dressing one final whisk and pour it over, then strew with the toasted pine nuts, croutons and a few fresh sprigs of thyme.

Make ahead note:

Poussin can be spatchcocked 1 day ahead. Put in roasting tin and cover tightly with clingfilm. Store in fridge.

Recipe from Nigella: Kitchen by Nigella Lawson (published by Chatto & Windus).

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