There’s something pathetically froggy about spatchcocked poussins but my word, they taste good and they cook a lot faster, staying deliciously juicy. They make a fabulous supper and a very good dinner party dish. Minimum effort, maximum flavour.
I’ve cooked them here with sweet/sour pomegranate molasses and they beg to be picked up and torn apart in a regrettably impolite manner. Finger bowls come in handy.
One poussin will, at a pinch, serve two. I like the generosity of a whole bird but split them lengthways when you serve, if you prefer, so each person has a breast, a leg and a wing. If, on the other hand, you’re cooking more than two poussins, increase the quantities of the marinade ingredients accordingly.
You might like them with a rice or bulgur wheat pilaf and a side salad.
1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 fat cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tspn ras el hanout
1 tspn hot smoked paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fresh pomegranate seeds and fresh coriander or parsley, to garnish
Spatchcock the poussins by lying them on a work surface, breast down, and snipping out the backbones with kitchen shears or a sharp knife. (If you’re thrifty, you can keep these for making a stock.)
Turn the birds over and press down on the breast bone to flatten them out. Mix together the marinade ingredients, all except the salt and pepper, and massage into the poussins to coat. Put in a roasting dish, cover with clingfilm, and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours.
Pre-heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5, drizzle the poussins with a little oil and grind over some salt and pepper. Roast uncovered for 40-45 minutes, basting after 30 minutes, until the juices run clear when you poke the thickest part of the meat with a knife.
While they’re cooking, prepare your pomegranate. You can buy the seeds ready-prepped but if you have a whole fruit, you might like to check out this method for extracting the seeds without also getting bits of the bitter pith. It’s quite therapeutic. Alternatively, cut them in half, hold the halves over a bowl, and whack hard with a wooden spoon. It works for Jamie Oliver.
When the birds are done, remove them from the oven, baste again and rest for 10 minutes before garnishing with pomegranate seeds and herbs.