Poussin (Cornish hens) make a great and very easy alternative to turkey on Christmas Day or Thanksgiving. Instead of cooking a turkey for hours and hours they take about 45 minutes to an hour. The meat is much more delicate and juicy than turkey, which can be dry and tough, and the bay leaves give them an amazing flavour. The ancient Romans always flavoured their meat simply with bay leaves and I can see why, it’s the perfect flavour and the meat will be subtly perfumed by the bay. Also if you are new to cooking, this recipe is far less daunting and more manageable than a turkey which requires a lot more time and attending to. I really love this recipe and it’s great with my cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, maple roasted root vegetables, brussel sprouts, red cabbage and all the trimmings.
Poussin (1 per person)
A glug of olive oil
Fresh bay leaves (a few per bird)
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Put the poussin in a baking tray on top of the bay leaves and coat in olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Add a cup of water and roast for 45 minutes to an hour until cooked through and golden. I use a meat thermometer to check they are done. Leave to rest for ten minutes before serving.
The gravy in the tray can be spooned over the birds when serving.
Lastly…. I keep fresh bay leaves in the freezer so I don’t have to use dried ones which are fine, but the flavour in a fresh bay leaf is more pungent and deliciously fragrant. You can also keep the poussin in the freezer till the night before you cook them, and defrost them in the fridge overnight. That way you can get your shopping done in advance of the day of your feast.