Spatchcocking then halving a poussin and sitting it on this richly fruited, nut-studded salad makes a feast for two people. For an unextravagantly treaty and altogether romantic weekend supper for two, I don’t think you can do better.
1-2 thick slices sourdough bread
2 tbsp olive oil
½ tsp paprika
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme, plus extra for decoration
4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
1 tbsp golden sultanas
2 tbsp dry white vermouth or white wine
1 tbsp pine nuts
150g/5oz mixed green salad (such as watercress, spinach, rocket or other feisty leaves)
½ tsp Dijon mustard
½ tsp sea salt flakes
1 tbsp moscatel vinegar
3 tbsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil or good extra-virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Leave the bread slices out on a wire rack to dry out a little.
To spatchcock the poussin, take some strong, sharp scissors (or poultry shears) and cut down either side of the spine. Take out the spine, then press down on the breastbone of the poussin to open it out flat. Cut the poussin in half lengthways.
Put the poussin into a small roasting tin. Drizzle over one tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle over the paprika and thyme sprigs and throw in the unpeeled garlic cloves. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the poussin is reddish-gold on top, and cooked through.
Meanwhile, put the sultanas into a small pan with the vermouth (or white wine). Bring to a bubbling simmer on the hob, then take the pan off the heat and leave to cool.
Toast the pine nuts in a hot, dry frying pan until golden-brown, then put to one side.
Slice the crusts off the bread and cut into croûtons. Heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and fry the croûtons until golden-brown and crisp. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.
Once the bird is cooked through, take the roasting tin out of the oven and let the poussin stand for 5-10 minutes. Discard the burnt thyme and the poussin’s spine (if using). While you’re waiting, arrange the salad leaves on a couple of plates.
Whisk together the Dijon mustard, salt flakes, moscatel vinegar and cold-pressed rapeseed or extra-virgin olive oil in a bowl.
When the poussin has rested, remove it and the garlic cloves from the roasting tin, add the juices in the tin to the dressing, and whisk again. (If you want to get every last bit of pan-flavour out, add a little hot water from a recently boiled kettle and swill it in around in the tin before adding this, too, to the dressing.) Whisk in the soused sultanas.
To serve, sit each half poussin on top of the salad leaves and add two garlic cloves to each plate. Give the dressing one final whisk and pour it over, then sprinkle over the toasted pine nuts, croûtons and a few fresh sprigs of thyme.
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