Baby Chickens with Ricotta and Herb Stuffing

3:10 pm on 16 December 2011

Ready in 1 hour 40 minutes

(Serves 6)

Ingredients

  • 3 poussins (baby chickens), weighing approximately 500g each
  • 150g ricotta, mopped dry with paper towels
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 3 slices mortadella, chopped (or use ham)
  • 1 Tbsp chopped rosemary
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • 50g butter
  • 2-2½ cups chicken stock
  • ½ cup dry white wine

Method

1 Rinse poussins thoroughly inside and out, then pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper.

2 In a bowl mix ricotta, garlic, mortadella, rosemary and fennel seeds with ¼ teaspoon salt and a little black pepper. Divide mixture in three then push one-third of the mixture between the breast skin and breast meat of each bird. Fold the wing tips back on each poussin, tucking them under the poussin, then tie the legs and parson's nose together with string. You can do this a day ahead.

3 Put poussins in a shallow roasting tin big enough so they have space around them. Brush poussins generously with butter and season with a little salt and pepper. Pour around 1 cup of the stock and pour over wine. Cook poussins for about 1 hour, or until golden and cooked through, in an oven preheated to 190°C (fanbake). Turn poussins over once during cooking and baste them often. Add more stock from time to time; do not let the juices scorch. 

4 When poussins are done, baste them again then transfer them to a plate and drape with greaseproof paper and let them rest for 10-15 minutes; they will be infinitely better served hottish, rather than piping hot. Attend to the juices. Tilt the roasting tin and let any fat pool on top. Scoop it off, then add ½ cup stock to the juices.

5 Cut the poussins in half down the breastbone, then cut either side of the backbone and discard backbones (make sure you take all the flesh off). Arrange poussins on a serving platter. Meanwhile, bubble up juices in the roasting tin, then pour over poussins.

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

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