Another knockout post from @EmFrid - and just in the nick of time.
There are certain days when I like to lock myself away in the kitchen and do some therapy cooking in order to keep a tenuous grip on my sanity. Therapy cooking, while not necessarily technically challenging, involves a lot of chopping and mixing. While I do all of this I hold quiet but heated arguments in my head with people that have in some minor or major way slighted me (and I’ve got a long memory for slights, so there’s plenty of material to choose from).
Arguments I win by being terribly clever and witty and scathing. So nothing like in real life, in other words. Or I have day dreams involving massive lottery wins and/or Michael Fassbender/Benedict Cumberbatch/Ryan Gosling. Normally there would be a bottle of wine involved as well, getting me quietly sloshed as I cook, but at the moment, as I'm pregnant, I’m forced to sip on a bottle of alcohol-free Becks while thinking hopeful thoughts about placebo effects (yeah, I know, I know. I’ll just wait here while you all run and fetch your violins).
Yesterday was such a day. Goblin – who have taken to the terrible twos with flamboyant gusto – spent all day perfecting her Horrible Little Shit act, and I swear Troll the Foetus somehow contrived to wedge himself in between my second and third rib where he sat bouncing all day. At the end of it I felt positively homicidal. So I scratched around the cupboards a bit and decided to cook some spicy poussin. To go with the birds I made a tabula kisir (a sort of more piquant, Turkish version of tabbouleh), the recipe to which I gotfrom Hugh F-W’s excellent book River Cottage Every Day. As I said, no ttechnically challenging, but it does involve quite a lot of ingredients and chopping, marinades, spices etc. It was all totally worth it though, because it came out bloody delicious.
I used one poussin per person, but that’s pretty much because I’m a ravenous third trimester beast right now. The more sensible among you might want to use just half a bird per person, depending on how hungry you are.Also, the quantities given for the tabula kisir will yield quite a lot, about six decent servings. Though it keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days,and makes for a lovely, healthy lunch stuffed into pita breads or similar.
Spicy Poussin withTabula Kisir
For the spicy poussin you’ll need:
Poussins (or chicken legs/thighs)
A head of garlic
1 red chilli, seeds in or out – up to you
100ml red wine vinegar
100ml lemon juice – roughly 4 lemons (reserve some of thelemon peel)
180ml olive oil or rapeseed oil
1.5tsp sea salt
2tsp Arabic Seven Spice, plus extra for sprinkling – Arabic SevenSpice might well be readily available in London/the rest of the country, butindeed not in Letchworth, so I made my own by mixing together 2tsbp groundblack pepper, 2tsbp ground paprika, 2tbsp ground cumin, 1 tbsp ground coriander,1/2tbsp ground cloves, 1tsp ground nutmeg, 1tsp ground cinnamon and ½tsp groundcardamom. This will keep well in an airtight container.
1. Score the poussins a few times with a sharp knife, thenplace in a large bowl/container
2. Put the garlic, lemon juice, chilli, vinegar, salt andArabic spice into a blender and whizz. Add the oil and whizz a bit more, then pourover the fowl. Add some of the reserved lemon peel, cover with cling film thenmarinate for as long as you can, turning occasionally.
3. When ready to cook preheat your oven to 180c, sprinklethe birds with a bit of the Arabic spice then cook until done, about 45 minutesto an hour for poussins. Brush with the left-over marinade a few times duringcooking, to keep the meat moist and add flavour.
For the Tabula Kisir you’ll need (note: this isn’t Hugh’s exact recipe – for the real deal checkout River Cottage Every Day):
200g bulghur wheat
About 6 ripe tomatoes
3 spring onions
1 red and 1 green pepper
1 big bunch each of mint, coriander and flat leaf parsley
For the dressing:
4tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp concentrated tomato puree
Pinch of dried chilli flakes
1tsp each of ground cumin, ground paprika, sea salt andground black pepper.
5tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
1. Place the bulghur wheat in a large bowl and pour over approx 200ml boiling water, stir and then cover for about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, mix together the lemon juice, tomato puree andthe spices, then whisk in the oil. Pour over the warm bulghur and stir. Leave to cool.
3. Chop the tomatoes and pepper into small dice, finelyslice the spring onions and chop the herbs finely. Mix it all into the cool bulghur along with the seeds from the pomegranate. Season. Let stand for an hour or so to let the flavours mingle together nicely, then serve with the poussin.
We had all this with pita bread and some half-arsed home-made tzatziki. It was really, really lovely, and made me feel decidedly less homicidal.And what with the weather getting warmer and warmer, I would imagine that this would make for a lovely BBQ meal out in the garden too