Poussins, French for chicks, are young chickens, sometimes called spatchcocks. They’re a good size to serve whole or halved, but you can also make this dish with a regular-size chicken and just increase the cooking time. Use a good organic bird, like the ones from Eugowra Game Birds, and a good naturally thick yoghurt, such as Meredith Dairy. I love the flavour of preserved lemon, and this delicious salata (Arabic for salad) is great with any poultry, seafood or just over rice with yoghurt. It’s easy to make your own preserved lemons and great to use every part of them; in this recipe the brine adds salt and acid to the marinade and the flesh goes into the birds’ cavities before roasting. I like to keep the Arabic influence going with the wine match, Momento Mori’s Staring at the Sun is a blend of vermentino, fiano and moscato giallo that has lovely notes of musk, orange blossom and ginger that work so well with this dish.
- 1 tablespoon ras el hanout (see FAQ below)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 2 tablespoons preserved lemon brine
- Preserved lemon flesh, reserved from making Salata below
- 2 x 600g poussins
- Steamed rice, for serving
Preserved Lemon & Herb Salata
- 1 preserved lemon, rinsed, rind only finely diced
- 12 green olives, pitted and finely sliced
- 1 red shallot, very finely diced
- 2 tablespoons slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons finely sliced chives
- 1 tablespoon finely sliced parsley leaves
- 2 teaspoons finely sliced mint leaves
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Garlic Yoghurt Sauce
- 250g sheep’s milk yoghurt
- 3 cloves garlic, crushed
- Combine ras el hanout, oil and preserved lemon brine.
- Wipe cavity of the poussins out with paper towel and pat skin dry.
- Rub the oil mixture all over them, cover and set aside at room temperature for an hour or so, turning them in the mixture occasionally.
- Meanwhile, pre-heat oven to 200°C.
- Make Preserved Lemon & Herb Salata: combine all Ingredients and set aside.
- Make Garlic Yoghurt Sauce: whisk yoghurt and garlic together, cover and refrigerate.
- Put preserved lemon flesh in the cavity of the poussins, place in a baking dish, breast side-up, and bake for 50 minutes or so, until well-coloured.
- Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Cut poussins in half and discard preserved lemon flesh.
- Arrange on a bed of rice, with cooking juices drizzled over the top and serve poussin with Preserved Lemon & Herb Salata on the side.
- Place Garlic Yoghurt Sauce in a bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve alongside.
What is Ras el Hanout?
Ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend; the name means ‘top of the shop’ (or top shelf) because it’s traditionally a mixture of the merchant’s finest spices. There are as many variations as there are spice merchants, with most containing a dozen or more Ingredients and old traditional recipes even including hashish and Spanish fly!
Are poussin and spatchcock the same thing?
Yes – and no. Poussin means ‘chick’ or young chicken in French. Spatchcock is a Method of preparing poultry by butterflying or flattening it, but as it’s most commonly done with young chickens it’s come to be used interchangeably with the word poussin.
What does spatchcock mean?
Spatchcocking is a Method of preparing any bird for cooking by removing the backbone and flattening it out – butterflying in other words. So quail, duck, guinea fowl, and chickens large and small, can all be “spatchcocked”. Increasingly young chickens are referred to as spatchcocks, though the French term, poussin, is also used.
Can you use the flesh of preserved lemon?
Most commonly only the rind of preserved lemon is used. However the flesh can be added to the cavity of poultry for roasting and the brine makes a great addition to marinades and salad dressings.