dish columnist Gareth Stewart, executive chef of Nourish Group which includes The Culpeper, welcomes spring with the punchy flavours of jerk-spiced poussin.
4 x poussin
coriander sprigs, to serve
My Aunties’ Jerk spice
12 grams dried pimento berries
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt
½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
3 dried bay leaves
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 dessertspoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon fresh picked thyme
1 scotch bonnet chilli (or habanero pepper)
3 spring onions, roughly chopped
1-inch fresh ginger, peeled, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled, roughly chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 dessertspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 dessertspoons olive oil
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
500ml good-quality chicken stock (preferably brown)
Spring vegetable succotash
½ cup frozen peas, blanched, refreshed
½ cup shelled broad beans, blanched, refreshed
½ cup sliced asparagus, blanched, refreshed
½ cup sliced green beans, blanched, refreshed
3 spring onions, sliced
½ cup canned white beans (such as cannellini), rinsed, drained
2 large ripe green tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced
½ cup loosely packed coriander, roughly chopped
½ cup loosely packed mint, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons good-quality extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lime
Working with one poussin at a time, place the bird on a chopping board, with the legs facing away from you. Find the wishbone and run your knife down either side of it to remove it (set aside for the gravy).
Next, remove the backbone. Holding the bird by one thigh, run your knife down past the opposite thigh, cutting down the backbone to the wing tip. Do the same with the other side, then remove the backbone and set aside.
Remove the thigh bones by using your knife to scrape away the meat either side of the bone, then cut out the bones, leaving the drumsticks attached to the bird.
Open the poussin right out, pressing down on it to flatten it out on the board. Repeat with all the poussin.
For the jerk spice
Use a mortar and pestle to grind all the dry ingredients together. Put all the wet ingredients in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well to combine.
Rub the spice blend all over the spatchcocked poussin then refrigerate overnight.
For the gravy
Chop all the reserved poussin bones into small pieces. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat, and sauté the bones until dark golden. Add the onion and butter and fry until soft and golden, then stir in the flour. Add the stock, a little at a time, scraping the base of the pan as you do. Bring to the boil, then simmer until thickened. Strain the gravy and set aside. Reheat when you’re ready to serve.
To cook the poussin
Preheat the oven to 190°C. Heat a little oil in a frying pan over high heat. Sear the poussin, skin-side down, for 1-2 minutes or until golden, then flip over onto the breast side and transfer to the oven for 10 minutes or until the juices run clear when the thigh is pierced (alternatively, cook on a charcoal barbecue to get that lovely smoky flavour). Rest for 5 minutes then serve with the succotash and gravy, garnished with coriander sprigs.
For the succotash
Combine all the ingredients.