Barbecued Poussin with Grapes, Almonds and Basil

From issue #3.
Photography by Photography by Simon Devitt.
Barbecued Poussin with Grapes, Almonds and Basil

Small chickens or poussins are tender and sweet. If they prove hard to find, use two portioned free range chickens. Inspired by a recipe by Maggie Beer.

Serves: 6 - 8


5 poussin
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
juice of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 cloves garlic, crushed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 cup verjuice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ lemon
300g grapes, halved and pips removed
1 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
½ cup whole almonds (skin on), toasted and roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 200ºC and preheat a ridged grill or barbecue.

Remove the backbone and rib cage from each poussin and cut each one in half. Using 2 metal skewers for each poussin, thread them through the two halves so they lie flat. Lightly brush with oil. Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme and garlic in a food processor and blend together. Season.

Quickly sear the poussin on the preheated grill until well coloured on both sides, then place them on an oven tray. Brush both sides generously with the thyme oil and roast in the oven until cooked
through, 20-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the verjuice, olive oil, garlic, lemon juice and zest and season well. Pour into a deep platter, large enough to take the poussin in one layer. When the poussin are cooked remove the skewers and place in the dressing, turning to coat well. Add the grapes and basil leaves and turn again. Allow to sit for at least 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle over the almonds just before serving.

Serve with lots of fresh crusty bread for mopping up the juices. Serves 6-8

Verjuice: In the 14th and 15th centuries French cooks used this juice made from unripe grapes. It has the tartness of lemon and the acidity of vinegar, but without the harshness of either. It marries particularly well with nut oils. Use it to de-glaze pans, make vinaigrettes, or poach fruit in a syrup made from equal parts verjuice and sugar. Use as an alternative to white wine vinegar in vinaigrettes or white wine for sauces or sweet applications.

Verjuice is available from specialty food stores