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2 Roast Poussins topped with bacon in a pot with jewelled rice Two’s Company Simple by Orlando Murrin | Photography by Clare Winfeld
September 2022
Reading time 2 Minutes
A poussin/Cornish game hen feels like a special treat, with all the pleasures of a roast chicken in miniature. You can serve it with gravy, bread sauce and roast potatoes, or as here, on a bed of rice, inspired by Persian jewelled rice, which you can make while the birds cook. I’m indebted to Barney Desmazery, one of the presiding geniuses behind the BBC Good Food operation, for his quick and easy roasting method.
  • For the Poussins
  • a little oil
  • 25g butter
  • 2 poussins/Cornish game hens
  • 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
  • For the Gravy
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • a good splash of brandy and/or Worcestershire sauce
  • For the Jewelled Rice
  • 1 carrot, or ½ a sweet potato, peeled and cut into dice
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 125g basmati rice
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 tbsp any/all of: fresh pomegranate seeds, raisins, dried cranberries, chopped organic dried apricots
  • 2 tbsp each flaked almonds and chopped pistachios, toasted
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • a knob of butter

For the poussins, dribble a little oil in a medium roasting tin or pan, so the birds don’t stick on the base. Smear the top and side of each bird with the butter (I use a small rubber spatula) and season well with salt and pepper. Snip each bacon rasher in half crosswise and lay crisscross over the breast of each bird. Roast at 210C fan/230C/450F for 40–45 minutes, until golden and cooked. (It is not necessary to preheat your oven, but you can save yourself five minutes by doing so.)

Leave the poussins to rest somewhere warm while you make the gravy. Stir the flour into the juices in the roasting tin and gradually whisk in the stock, until you achieve your preferred thickness. Season well, add the brandy and/or Worcestershire sauce and serve with the poussins.

For the jewelled rice, put the carrot, sugar and a good pinch of salt into a pan, cover generously with water and simmer till the carrot is tender – about five minutes. Drain.

In a medium saucepan, one with a lid, heat the oil and fry the onion with plenty of seasoning for three to four minutes, till translucent. Stir in the rice and cinnamon and and sizzle until the rice is translucent – three to four minutes. Pour in 300ml water and bring to a simmer, stir well, then reduce the heat to very low (just the occasional murmuring bubble). Sprinkle over the saffron (don’t stir it in – this will give a streaked effect), cover and leave for about 15 minutes, till the liquid is absorbed and the rice fully cooked. Taste for seasoning, stir in the carrot and fruit and leave covered till ready to eat, up to 10 minutes. Fold in the nuts, parsley, garam masala and butter just before serving.

Two’s Company Simple by Orlando Murrin
published by Ryland Peters & Small (£20)
Photography by Clare Winfeld
© Ryland Peters & Small

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