Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Dinner party poussin

Sorry, this turns out to be a bit blurry. But you can get the idea.

One solution to a dinner party crisis - especially if you are not a magnificently confident cook (who is?!) - is to throw a lot of money at the problem.

I don't like doing this, because I have been brought up to think that if I do not buy all my clothes from H&M and make dinner out of half a loaf of stale bread and some turnips then I am wretched and profligate and will probably go to hell. Although when you're from a family as protestant in thought and word and deed as mine, hell is a far too good, interesting and racy place for sinners.

This is why I'm always cooking cabbage.

But it is a fact that you can just go out and spend a lot of money and throw an impressive dinner party. Like doing this Lucas Hollweg thing I found in the Sunday Times the other week. I don't have much time for Lucas Hollweg normally - partly because he says things like "I cooked this for my book group and they loved it!!!!!" but mostly because he's got a fucking wicked job and I am not big enough NOT to hate him for it.

Nigella's always going on about how marvellous poussin are for a party and my objection has always been meanness. "£3.99 each?!?!" I find myself screaming silently to myself. "Absolutely not. They can have boiled ham and carrots."

But if you are half-minded to unload some cash, poussin are a good idea - as everyone gets one each, so you don't have to do any tedious carving and they're more festive, somehow.  The idea is to pile up the poussin in a bowl and everyone helps themselves in that modern, faux-naif, nauseatingly bourgeois way.

Lucas does this with a sort of middle-eastern marinade thing, which works pretty well and smells great. It also means that you can do this with a salad and couscous, rather than dicking about with a lot of veg.

This is not his exact recipe, but it's kind of the same idea.

For 3 poussin you need the following quantities for the marinade:

4 tbs olive oil
1 tbs groundnut oil
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp paprika - any sort
3 crushed garlic cloves

Soak the birds in this mixture for as long as you can. Ideally for a few hours, but even one hour makes a difference. If you've got a lot of poussin, increase the quantities of your marinade accordingly.

Then sprinkle over with salt and roast at 180C for 35-40 mins.

If you're doing this with couscous, add to it some lemon juice, coriander, salt and pepper, chopped cucumber and toasted pine nuts. We also had this with some minted yoghurt, which was just a lot of fresh mint chopped up and added to Greek yoghurt with some salt and pepper.

V nice. If pricey.


  1. I have no turmeric, go without or could I substitute something else??

  2. yeah go without, not essential. it's the paprika and the cumin that really matter.

  3. Hallo! This sounds amazing, but is there any marinade that would involve me 'dicking around with loads of veg' so to speak? A non-middle eastern one?
    Also whilst I'm here just want to say you should definately write a recipe book :). With all your funny anecdotes and photos it would be successful I'm sure!

  4. So, Cat, what you're saying is that you'd like a completely different recipe

  5. Well I am a student and whilst I am willing to splash out on the Poussins because they are an wonderful idea for a dinner party the seasonings I use are mostly stolen from neighbouring herb gardens or fellow housemates, thus am sadly lacking the paprika and what not. Would a generic lemon/garlic/rosemary thing work do you think?

  6. Yes it would work fine. If I was doing that, I'd have alongside a big tray of potato dauphinoise or mac cheese and a salad.

  7. Nb, just want to pipe up and say, that the inclusion of the phrase 'dicking around with a lot of veg' just made my night. (A slightly lame night which involved a wretched tumble of a salad and a glass of wine too cheap to serve in company. But made my night nonetheless.

  8. This looks fantastic & I'll definitely try it for a special occasion sometime. For a normal everyday dinner, for that read cheap, I think that marinade would be fantastic on some chicken portions, so I'll try that out over the weekend.
    PS: It's great to have you back

  9. Inspirational! After months of looking at the 2 for £5 Gressingham Poussain in Tesco I finally bought some to try this recipe. hope it works out well!

  10. I like the idea, but I was brought up to think that refusing to eat a jelly made with salt instead of sugar is wasteful. So sorry, but I can't make this. It looks and sounds lovely. Maybe if you invite me for dinner I could try it. (I'd bring Aldi wine though.)