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Spatchcocking, it’s not that hard

spatchcocking a poussin

A little while ago I attended Luiz Hara‘s London Cooking Club where a group of keen foodies gathered to feast on a themed tasting menu. Held once a month or so at his lovely home in Islington, Luiz has been running the Cooking Club for some time. The theme on this occasion was Nduja, the softly spicy spreadable sausage from Calabria.

Though ready to eat, Nduja also lends itself well to cooking so the idea was to explore a few recipes using Nduja as an ingredient. I was tasked with preparing Niahm Shield of Eat Like A Girl‘s Pimp My Peri Peri Poussin.

Owing to a rather hectic schedule, I had to squeeze in the prep into two days – making the marinade in one and doing the marinating in the other. The realisation the night before that I would have to get up extra early on a Sunday to spatchcock six poussins, to allow sufficient time for marination, was rather daunting. And having never spatchcocked anything before, this seemed like a particularly taxing job after an evening of natural wines at Terroirs.

As it turned out, spatchcocking is not that hard. You do however, need some strength and a good pair of kitchen scissors. And, of course, you need to be very comfortable handling a carcass.

Starting with the poussin breasts down, cut closely along either side of its spinal column to remove it and open the carcass up. Then the easiest thing to do is to flip the bird over and press down gently on the breast bone to flatten it. And this is pretty much it.

For this recipe though, I decided to remove the breast bone and ribs too so it can be divided up easily into tasting portions after cooking. Turning the poussin back again, you should be able to see the breast bone much more clearly on the inside. Then, either with a knife or your hands, just trace along the breast bone to remove it. Make sure to take out the wishbone too – you will need to carve it out of the flesh.

The six poussins took me about an hour which allowed plenty of time for the marinade to work. And after struggling through London transport, I made it to Luiz’s home where we had a wonderful meal. The bonus was perhaps the poussin bones I saved for stock. It made a wonderfully concentrated liquor later on – though there were more sediments than chicken, it was much more flavourful.

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Qin Xie
Qin Xie is a London based food, wine and travel journalist and trained chef. When not infiltrating Michelin restaurants as a kitchen tourist, she writes about food, drink and travel. Her work has appeared on Yahoo, FT, The Times and CNN. Her first cookbook, co-authored with YS Peng at Hunan Restaurant, is out March 2014. According to friends, her watch is always set to UTC -- ready for the next big adventure. In reality, she is happiest at the dinner table or by the sea.

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