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If you are not planning a large Christmas lunch, why not opt instead for a special dinner for two; serve these quick to roast baby chickens with delicious blackberry sauce flavoured with orange rind, winter spices and just a hint of redcurrant jelly. What’s more, there’s not a Brussel sprout in sight!
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
2 x 500g (1lb 2oz) baby poussin
40g (11/2oz) butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 fresh bay leaves
4 rashers streaky bacon
175g (6oz) shallots, peeled, halved if large
450g (1lb) baby new potatoes, washed
2-3 tbsp olive oil
6 tbsp red wine
2 tbsp water
1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
Large pinch ground ginger
Large pinch ground cinnamon
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
100g (4oz) small blackberries
Watercress or rocket salad to serve
1 Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5. Rinse each poussin inside and out with cold water, drain well then put in a roasting tin. Dot the breast of each with the butter then season with salt and pepper and put 2 bay leaves and 2 rashers of bacon on the top of each. Loosely cover the poussin with foil folding down over the sides. Add the shallots, potatoes and remaining bay leaves to the roasting tin, drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.
2 Roast for 45 minutes, removing the foil and bacon from the poussin for the last 20 minutes and turning the potatoes and shallots and basting with the pan juices until golden. To test the poussin are ready, insert a small sharp knife or skewer through the thickest part of the leg into the breast, the juices will run clear when ready.
3 Transfer the poussin and vegetables to a serving plate, cover with foil and keep hot in the turned off oven, allowing the poussin to rest while you make the sauce.
4 To make the sauce, pare the rind from the half the orange with a vegetable peeler then cut into very thin shreds. Squeeze the juice, add both to a small saucepan with the red wine, water and redcurrant jelly. Add the spices, sugar, mustard and a little salt and pepper. Bring to the boil then cook over a medium heat, stirring until syrupy. Add the blackberries and simmer gently for 3 minutes until the berries are just cooked.
5 Serve the sauce with the roasted poussin, potatoes and shallots and a side dish of watercress or rocket salad.
Pare the rind from the half the orange with a vegetable peeler before you cut it, that way it is easier to do then squeeze it afterwards.
Rather than cooking two poussin, you could also give a small everyday chicken the five star treatment. Roast with butter, bay leaves and bacon for the timings given on the wrapper, then add the potatoes, shallots, bay and olive oil for the last 45 minutes of cooking, removing the foil 20 minutes or so before it is ready so that the skin can brown. Serve with the warm blackberry Cumberland sauce and salad as above.