In the United Kingdom, poussin (or less common coquelet) is a term commonly used by butchers for a young chicken, less than 28 days old at slaughter and usually weighing 400-450 grams but not above 750g. It is sometimes also called spring chicken, although the term “spring chicken” usually refers to chickens weighing 750-900g.
Stateside, poussin is an alternative name for a small-sized [cross-breed] chicken called Rock Cornish game hen. Developed in the late 1950s, this breed is twice as old and twice as large as the typical British poussin.
Roast poussin with cumin-lime-herb butter, served with pan-fried potatoes, shallots and rosemary
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If you can’t get poussin at your local farmers’ market, substitute a Cornish game hen. You might have to adjust the cooking time however. Allow one poussin or Cornish game hen per person.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh lime zest
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
freshly milled black pepper
1/3 cup pinot gris or other white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes
Preheat oven to 425 F.
In a small bowl stir together 2 tablespoons butter, parsley, lime zest, cumin, salt, and pepper until combined. Trim necks of poussins flush with bodies if necessary. Rinse birds inside and out and pat dry. Beginning at neck end of each bird, slide fingers between meat and skin to loosen skin, being careful not to tear the skin. Divide seasoned butter into 4 portions. Using a teaspoon put 1 portion of butter under skin of each breast half. Spread seasoned butter evenly under skin by pressing outside of skin with fingers. If desired, truss legs of each bird together with kitchen twine and secure wings to sides with toothpicks or skewers.
Arrange birds in a roasting pan or Pyrex baking dish just large enough to hold them. Melt remaining tablespoon butter. Brush butter onto birds; generously sprinkle with salt. Roast the poussin in the upper third of oven for 45 minutes, or until an instant-read meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of the inner thigh registers 170 F.
Transfer birds to a platter and loosely cover with foil to keep warm. Add wine to roasting pan and deglaze, scraping up any browned bits. Gradually whisk in the butter cubes. Reduce over moderate heat until sauce thickens slightly. Check seasoning.
Serve poussins with sauce.
The potatoes were 6 Ozette potatoes and one large shallot, peeled and sliced, fried in unsalted butter over medium-high heat, then finished with sea salt and rosemary leaves.