Sunday, July 25, 2010

Roasted Poussin, Morel Mushrooms, Tawny Port, Roasted Potatoes and Sauteed Pea Vines

From Rainshadow Meats at the Melrose Market, I purchased three Poussin, or spring chickens from Mad Hatcher Farms.  A Cornish game hen is comparable, but whereas the game hen is bred to be a smaller bird, poussin are young chickens which are a particular age and weight.  Think of it as what lamb is versus sheep and veal is versus beef.  I've been thinking about how to prepare these beautiful birds.  It's a gorgeous summer day out, and I really should be grilling, but I felt as though I really should roast them for optimal flavor.  
I started by sprinkling the cavity of each poussin with salt and pepper and stuffing each with fresh sprigs of thyme and rosemary and wedges of lemon.  Then I rubbed each one with softened butter both between the skin and meat and on top of the skin.  Truss each one with kitchen string.  Place the poussin back in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes so that the butter can harden on the skin.  Preheat your oven to 450f.  In a heavy cast iron pan, I seared the poussin, on the back side only (breast side up), for a few minutes.  Place the poussin, in the cast iron pan, into the oven and roast for about 40 minutes until they are golden brown.  To test for doneness, pierce leg and if juices run clear, you're good to go.  Remove poussin from pan onto a separate plate and keep warm while you make the sauce. 
Drain most of the fat from the pan, toss in morels and saute until just softened.  Add in about 1/2 cup of tawny port and reduce by about half.  My plan was to use madeira, but as it turned out, I did not have any.  I then added 1/4 cup of beef stock and 1 cup of heavy cream and boiled until thickened.  Serve poussin with roasted potatoes, sauteed pea vines and drizzled sauce.  The poussin was so PHENOMENAL!  Tender, juicy, flavorful, unlike game hens which can be dry and well, dry.  We marveled at its fabulousness.  And roasting was definitely the way to go!  Even the girls were over the moon.
My potato garden has been a gift that keeps giving.  I am continually harvesting potatoes as we need them.  They've been great mashed, fried, and roasted.  I am hooked! 
My pea vines have seen the end of their cycle, but I was able to buy several large bunches of pea vines at the farmers market along with the fresh morels.  I bought the pea vines knowing that about 70% of them would be tossed out.  They were inexpensive, but only the very tops of them were tender enough to eat.  They need to be trimmed by hand as nipping the tips will tell you if it's tender or tough.  Tender shoots should be easily snapped off.  Any resistance means it will be tough.  
 This large bunch yielded the small bunch below

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