Once spatchcocked (split open and flattened), poussins can be quickly grilled, each bird then providing a single serving. Here they are basted with a Japanese-style mixture made with fresh ginger, soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve with boiled jasmine rice or noodles and crisp, steamed vegetables such as Chinese leaf and mange-tout.
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2 poussins, about 400 g (14 oz) each
red chillies to garnish (optional)
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp finely grated fresh root ginger
1 tbsp clear honey
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
½ tsp very finely chopped fresh red chilli, or to taste
To spatchcock the poussins, use a knife or poultry shears to cut up one side of the backbone, then cut out the backbone altogether. Open out each bird on a chopping board, skin side up, and press down firmly with the palm of your hand. Cut off the wing tips and knuckles to make the birds a neater shape, then carefully remove the skin. Secure each bird in a flat position with a long metal skewer, pushing it through crossways from the meaty part of one drumstick to the other. Place the birds in a large shallow dish or roasting tin.
Mix together the teriyaki baste ingredients, then pour over the poussins, turning so they are well coated on both sides. Set aside to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat the grill to moderate. Place the poussins on the grill rack, skinned side down. Grill for about 30 minutes – basting frequently with the teriyaki mixture and turning over after 15 minutes – until cooked through. Test by piercing the thigh with the tip of a knife; the juices that run out should be clear.
While the poussins are cooking, make the chillies into ‘flowers’, if using, by slicing one end of each chilli into fine ‘petals’. Serve the poussins hot, garnished with the chilli flowers.
Some more ideas
To make a tomato and cumin baste for the poussins, replace the ginger and soy sauce with 2 tbsp tomato ketchup and 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, and add 1 tsp Dijon mustard and 1/4 tsp cumin seeds. Omit the chilli. * Use 4 skinless boneless chicken breasts (fillets) instead of the poussins, to serve 4. Double the ingredients for the teriyaki baste, except the toasted sesame oil, and grill for 10–12 minutes.
Some studies have shown that chillies can help to reduce blood cholesterol levels. There are also reports suggesting that eating chillies can help to protect against gastric ulcers by causing the stomach lining to secrete a mucus which coats the stomach, thus protecting it from damage by irritants such as aspirin or alcohol. * Removing the skin from chicken reduces its fat content considerably. If this is done before cooking, and then an oil-based baste is used to add flavour and moisture, the fat is still kept low.