KITCHEN TALK

CHRISTMAS DINNER
FOR TWO
READY IN AN HOUR

By Sam | 10 Deceber, 2019
"We drink mulled wine, we listen to Dean Martin Christmas songs, we exchange gifts and we eat a bird." ​

OUR COUPLE'S CHRISTMAS

Christmas is one of our favourite times of the year. A time for even the scroogiest of Ebenezers to feel a little cheerier and huddle up in front of the warm glow of a Christmas tree.  

However, with our respective families living in different countries, we often spend portions of Christmas separately. A common scenario for many young couples.So every year, usually around the 20th, we have our own private tradition just for us. We drink mulled wine, we listen to Dean Martin Christmas songs, we exchange gifts and we eat a bird.

This Christmas we’re roasting a poussin. A perfectly portioned bird for two that still feels in keeping with the Christmas-Roast-Bird sentiment.

OUR CHRISTMAS MENU


Mulled Wine

Cardamom and Orange Roast Poussin,
Roast Baby Carrots,
Brown Butter Mash,
Christmas Braised Greens,
Orange Christmas Gravy ​

(More) Mulled Wine & Chocolate

Cardamom and Orange bring a wonderfully aromatic taste of Christmas to the Poussin. By spatchcocking and roasting the poussin over the baby carrots you have a perfectly roast bird and carrots seasoned with all of the Poussin’s goodness in a speedy 40 minutes.

We’re serving these with some braised baby leaf greens, flavoured with anise, cranberries and walnuts for crunch. And then there’s the Brown Butter Mash. Obscenely opulent as all mash should be. Finally topped with a rich, glossy Orange Christmas Gravy - a perfect foil to the Poussin.      

And that’s our Couples Christmas meal for two. Ideally portioned, ready in 1 hour and absolutely delicious. 

And whilst this will be our own private event - we’d like to share our menu with you in the hope that those of you out there looking for a similar Couples Christmas can enjoy a delicious meal as well.

INGREDIENTS

POUSSIN & CARROTS
500g Poussin.
150g Baby Carrots
Zest of Half an Orange
30g Unsalted Butter, softened
10ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Small Bunch of Thyme
2 tsp. Ground Cardamom
Generous Pinch of Salt and Pepper
(Plus Extra salt if Dry-Brining)

CHRISTMAS GREENS
100g Baby Leaf Greens
½ Onion, finely diced
10g Dried Cranberries
10g Walnuts, roughly chopped
1 Star Anise20g
Unsalted Butter
1 Small Bunch of Tarragon, finely diced
BROWN BUTTER MASH
2 Medium Baking Potatoes
50g Unsalted Butter
1 Small Bunch of Sage
1 small Garlic Clove, bruised
50ml Milk 
Generous Pinch of Salt and Pepper

ORANGE CHRISTMAS GRAVY
Juice of 1 Orange½ Onion, finely diced
75ml Cointreau
75ml Red Wine
100ml Chicken Stock
3 tsp. Cranberry Sauce
2 tsp. Dijon Mustard
1 Small Bunch of Thyme
Generous Pinch of Salt and Pepper

THE METHOD

A Quick Note:​We’ll be dry-brining our Christmas Poussin overnight for extra-crispy-skin and an extremely juicy bird - if you want to do the same, simply refrigerate your poussin for between 1 and 24 hours after spatchcocked and seasoned.

Why brine? Scroll down below the recipe to gain a complete understanding as to its merits and why you should brine.​But if timing is of the essence, you can skip this stage to plate up your Poussin in 1 hour.

THE POUSSIN & CARROTS

First things first, you need to Spatchcock your Poussin. You can ask your butcher to do this for you or if you’re feeling brave you can do this yourself - don’t worry, it’s very simple. Take your Poussin and sit it breast side down so the underside is face-up towards you. Take a sharp pair of scissors and cut down either side of the spine, making sure to save this for your sauce later. You should now be able to easily flatten the Poussin out so that the legs now sit flat in line with the breasts and the ‘knees’ of the Poussin nearly touch.
(see VIDEO for reference)

Once you’ve spatchcocked your Poussin, season liberally with salt and half of the ground Cardamom.It’s at this point that you may want to go for the OPTIONAL DRY BRINING (Scroll down below recipe for details).​

Preheat the oven to 220 °C.​

To make your seasoned butter, combine the softened butter, olive oil, orange zest, pepper, thyme leaves and remaining ground cardamom and mix together.​

Lay your carrots out on a large roasting tray and drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Top the carrots with your spatchcocked poussin and then slather generously with the flavoured butter, ensuring every nook and crevice is buttered.​

Transfer to the oven and reduce the heat to 180 °C. Roast for 35-40 minutes until wonderfully golden, crisp and cooked through.​

Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.​

Whilst your bird is roasting - turn your attention to the sides and sauce.

BROWN BUTTER MASH

Place a large pan over a medium-high heat and melt the butter in the pan. Once melted add in the garlic and the sage leaves. Leave the butter to infuse for a minute or two until the sage leaves begin to crisp and the butter has turned golden-brown and nutty. Remove the sage and garlic and set aside for later.

Transfer the brown butter to a small bowl and place in the fridge/freezer to solidify.

*Keep the pan you melted the butter in for your greens to save on washing up and impart some of that glorious flavour.

Peel the potatoes and dice into eighths. Add to a pan of cold, salted water and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-25 minutes until easily pierced by a fork.

Drain the potatoes and then puree with a hand masher or potato ricer.

Using a whisk, beat in the milk until loosened and finely fold in the brown butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve topped with the crisp sage leaves.

GREENS

Separate and wash the leaves from the greens and remove the large hard stalks from the larger leaves. Then roughly chop the leaves into 1cm ribbons.  

Return the pan you melted the butter for the Mash on to a medium-high heat with a lug of olive oil.

Add the onion to the pan and sweat for 2-3 minutes until starting to colour, stirring frequently to avoid the onions burning. Add the diced greens and star anise and sauté for 2-3 minutes moving the leaves around the pan constantly until the cabbage has started to soften.​

Add a knob of butter to the pan with the dried cranberries and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook for a couple of minutes until the leaves are wilted but maintain a little texture.

To serve, top with chopped tarragon and walnuts.

ORANGE GRAVY

Place a large pan over a medium-high heat with a generous lug of olive oil.

Add the Poussin spine to the pan and brown all over until sealed and there is a good amount of fond built up in the pan.Remove the browned spines and add the onion and thyme with a splash of the Cointreau, scraping any fond loose and then sauté for 3-4 minutes. Turn the heat up to high and pour in the Wine and the Cointreau. Cook until the liquid is reduced by half, stirring occasionally to prevent the onions catching on the bottom of the pan.

Add the stock and juice of half an orange along with the Dijon Mustard and Cranberry Sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half.​

Once reduced, pass the sauce through a sieve and into another pan. Discard the contents of the sieve.       

Shortly before serving, warm the sauce through and season to taste. Finally, whisk in a knob of butter and serve immediately.

SERVING

To serve, try slicing the Poussin in half, right down the centre of the breasts, that way you each can enjoy a breast, leg and wing.
Garnish the plate with a spoonful of the Brown-Butter Mash, equal portions of the carrots and greens, before crowning with your perfect poussin and finish with the rich, glossy gravy.​

A delicious way to celebrate your Couple’s Christmas.

A NOTE ON DRY BRINING

I want to talk for a moment of the benefits of Dry Brining.

Brining your roast bird is not such an uncommon procedure these days - indeed many supermarkets even sell pre-brined birds for roasting.

So why brine?

For exquisitely juicy, tender, flavour-packed meat of course.

By brining your bird in a salt-water solution, the salt will help to break down proteins in the meat, meaning that it won’t tense-up and contract while cooking - losing precious water in the process. By Brining, that juice will stay in your bird - giving you a plumper, juicy, more tender roast.

What could be better? Well, I’ll tell you - along with helping to retain moisture, the salt will thoroughly season your bird throughout giving you a meatier, more intensely flavoured roast.

Not bad, eh?

That’s Wet-Brining but for our Poussin, we are going with a Dry-Brine method. Now, given that we’ve just highlighted the glories of traditional wet-brining you may well be wondering why you’d deviate.

FOR CRISPY SKIN…

Need we say more.

Whilst Wet-Brining is going to inject new levels of moisture into your bird, it’s not going to do you any favours when it comes to achieving the crisp-skinned roast bird you dream about with embarrassing regularity.

Dry-Brining, on the other hand, will do almost everything the wet-brine does (you will compromise a little on the extra moisture wet brining achieves), whilst helping to dry out the skin of your bird, to give you the crispiest, golden, caramelised skin you've ever seen.

Plus it works much quicker! Even an hour of dry brining will make a difference. Give your bird 24 hours and you're looking at a religious experience.   

Not to mention it saves you the considerable difficulty of trying to store a container large enough for an entire bird plus saltwater solution in your fridge - a practice I shall explore in all too much detail in my autobiography chapter titled “The time I spilt an entire brining chicken in my fridge.” 

So Dry-Brining as you may have deduced works in much the same way as Wet-Brining, just minus the wet. 

Heavily season your roast bird in salt and any spices you want to impart flavour with and then leave your bird UNCOVERED in the fridge for anywhere between 1 and 24 hours.

This is going to do two things:  

1. Season your bird throughout and help to break down the protein, as with regular wet-brining.
2. Leaving the bird uncovered exposes it to the extremely dry environment of your fridge. Assoon as you do this, that extreme dryness will get to work on the skin of your bird - drying it out and greatly aiding you in your quest for golden, crispy-skinned poultry. 

We’ll be Dry-Brining our Christmas Poussin overnight - if you want to do the same, simply refrigerate your bird for between 1 and 24 hours after spatchcocked and seasoned.

And that’s Brining - a completely optional practice that only the gravest of fools would ignore.
Enjoy!

Let us know how you get on with your own Couples Christmas Dinner creations. Whether it's one of our own inspirations or one of yours, we definitely want to see them!

Leave any suggestions and Christmas wishes in the comments below! 

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