Roast Dinners Are Not Just For Sundays! Roast Poussin With Trimmings

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Roast poussin with kale and leeks, roast parsnips and swede and carrot mash. The swede and carrot mash is hiding under the bacon!

My partner has had a change in his work pattern recently, which means he leaves the house at 12.30 in the afternoon, but doesn’t get home until 10 at night. Our meal times are completely up the spout and we’ve been mostly skipping breakfasts and eating a brunch at around 11.30 in the morning. It’s a bit of an adjustment as I’m not used to cooking a full on meal that early in the day – usually our big hot meals are at night! On the other hand it’s lovely having him in the morning – we’ve been blessed with beautiful weather so have gone for early morning walks around the local park. The other day I bought a poussin on a whim, knowing that we’d have to eat it for our brunch, and it turned into a bit of a challenge to cook a full roast meal in under an hour.

Poussin is essentially a young chicken, usually weighing around half a kilo. It’s the perfect size for two people and as it’s so small it cooks really quickly compared to a conventional roast chicken. While it gets on with roasting away in the oven you can get the rest of the veg going and produce a perfectly delicious roast dinner for two in under an hour. I promise that – I wasn’t going to post a recipe for this because it seemed so simple…but then I remembered that sometimes it’s the simple things in life that we need help with. Take immersion blender mayo – I’ve made this fantastic 30-second recipe from The Healthy Foodie countless times, but no matter how many times, I still need to check the recipe. The one time I didn’t use the recipe, it failed (it was probably more to do with the size of my egg than anything but still, my crutch was missing!).

The veg are just simple, seasonal British vegetables, cooked in traditional ways, no fancy ingredients, no cheffing about. You end up with a meal that is totally British in flavour, and I think that’s just right for this time of year with these ingredients. You obviously don’t need to do all of these veg for one meal – we had loads of veg from the veg box that needed using up before the new box was delivered. The quantities given are enough for the one meal, except for the kale, which was enough for two meals for two people.

Ingredients

For the poussin:

  • 1 poussin (I used Gressingham which is easily found in supermarkets)
  • 3 rashers of smoked bacon (I used back but streaky would have been better)
  • Salt and pepper

For the parsnips:

  • 2 parsnips, peeled
  • 1 dessertspoon ghee or duck fat

For the swede and carrot mash:

  • 1/2 swede, peeled and chopped into cubes
  • 2 carrots, peeled if they look ropey and chopped into rounds the same size as the swede
  • Knob of butter or ghee
  • Splash of coconut milk (or cream if you’re Primal)
  • Salt and pepper

For the kale and leeks:

  • 1 large head of curly kale, leaves stripped off the stalk, shredded and washed well
  • 1 large leek
  • Knob of butter or ghee
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Turn on your oven to 200C to preheat.
  2. For the poussin: Place the poussin in a small roasting tin and snip off the string tying the legs together (this helps to cook it faster). Sprinkle with salt and grind some black pepper over. Lay the bacon strips on top. Once the oven has come up to heat, put the poussin in the oven.
  3. For the parsnips: Place your fat in a small roasting tin in the oven. Cut the ends off the parsnips and then cut them in half widthways. Cut the thin end in half lengthways and the fat end in half lengthways and then half lengthways again. For each parsnip you’ll end up with 6 roughly equal-sized pieces. Take the baking tray out of the oven and place your parsnips in the tray in a single layer. Put the roasting tin back in the oven.
  4. For the swede and carrot mash: Place the swede and carrot pieces into a saucepan and add a couple of inches of water. Cover and allow to cook until soft. Drain but keep the water. Add the butter and a splash of coconut milk or cream, then mash with a potato masher. It’s hard to get it very smooth so just leave it rustic and chunky. Place in an oven-safe dish and place it in the oven.
  5. For the kale and leeks: Add the water from the swede and carrots into a saucepan and add the kale and a large pinch of salt. Bring back to the boil and then simmer on low until the kale has turned a deep green and has cooked through (you can get this on before you mash the swede and carrots to save time). Once it’s cooked, turn off the gas and crush the garlic into it. Meanwhile, add the butter to another saucepan (I used the one from the swede and carrot mash without washing it); once melted, add the leeks, a good grinding of black pepper and a small splash of water (you could pour some of the water from the kale into it). Bring to the boil then allow to cook until the leeks are soft and the water has evaporated. Add the buttered leeks into the saucepan with the kale and stir through.
  6. To serve: Transfer the poussin to a chopping board and joint it roughly – cut off the thighs and legs and cut through the breastbone to end up with a portion each of thighs and legs and breast and wing. Discard the backbone (keep it for stock!). Place on a serving dish and top with the juices from the roasting tin and the crispy bacon pieces. Tuck in on a dreary Wednesday afternoon and revel in daring to have a roast dinner on a weekday!

Note: Keep the peelings from the parsnips and carrots and the backbone from the poussin in the freezer to add to other bones later to make a stock.

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