Saturday, 12 March 2011

Five-spice Roast Poussin with Mandarin Orange and Carrots

So, for my first fusion dish since that very important post, I decided to post a classic british roast chicken, but with lots of chinese flavour influence.

A poussin (pronounced poo-sun, sounds awfully french and posh doesn't it) is a teenage chicken (baby would be a chick wouldn't it??). It costs a bit more than chicken because the meat is much more tender, but my butcher was having a sale due to an oversupply of poussins, 1 pound each. That's cheaper than a chicken leg!

see how small it is!

I never really tried roasting a whole bird before, because it just doesn't make sense for one/two people. I usually roast chicken legs or sometimes chicken breasts, but this time, with a small poussin, I can finally try things like stuffing an entire lemon into the cavity. I want to try the technique of spatchcocking the next time I manage to get my hands on a whole bird!

I did this sometime in January, when mandarins and clementines were everywhere, so I decided to change it to a sweet citrus instead, and being mandarin oranges, I felt compelled to use some chinese spices. To prop up the bird, I roasted it on a bed of carrots, just because I felt very orange ;)

Five-spice Roast Poussin with Mandarin Orange and Carrots
serves 2
1 poussin
2 mandarin oranges/clementines
4-5 small carrots (or 3 large, halved lengthwise)
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp five-spice powder
1 tbsp Chinese rice wine (hua diao/shaoxing)
few sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp melted butter + a few more dabs
1 tsp sesame oil

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
2. Parboil the carrots for about 5 min, not till it gets soft! At the same time, drop in the mandarin oranges, whole, to make it easier for the juices to release later.
3. Meanwhile, wash the poussin, pat dry and season the inside and outside of the poussin with the soy sauce, five spice powder. Rub the sesame oil and butter over the skin.
4. Poke one of the mandarin orange all over then stuff it with a sprig of thyme into the cavity of the poussin.
5. Arrange the carrots in a single layer on a roasting tray , throw the remaining thyme around, and then place the poussin on top (try to prop the legs up by being strategic with the carrots hehe).
6. Cut the other mandarin orange in half and then squeeze the juices all over the bird and carrots. Sprinkle the tbsp of Chinese rice wine around.

7. Into the oven for about 45 min, till the juices run clear!

8. Let the poussin rest, tented with foil for at least 15 min before cutting into it. I served it halved with the roasting juices spooned over.

Yes, on mashed potato,very un-Chinese I know, but it just felt right against the roast poussin and sweet carrots. I think it would also work out very well if you drop the carrots and then section the chicken, serving it over a bed of noodles and steamed vegetables, with the gravy poured over, kind of like roast duck noodles.

This is the first time I've tasted poussin. You know how if you poke baby skin you get that feeling of slight amazement at the tenderness and smoothness? It's the same with poussin! Poussin has less developed flavour than chicken though, so the five-spice and soy sauce really helps to add a punch. The mandarin orange adds sweetness without the need for sugar or honey, giving the crispy skin a deeper golden hue and the carrots, a yummy sticky glaze. I love seeing so much yellow, orange and brown on a plate, I think they're a few of the most appetising colours to the eye(:

This is part of Weekend Herb Blogging #274 hosted by Winnie from Healthy Green Kitchen.


  1. I've never cooked poussin either. Don't see them in the market here. But, what a fantastic meal you made of that little bird!

  2. Thank you! You can easily try this with chicken too (:

  3. This looks so good...and I think pretty enough for guests. This would also work perfectly with individual cornish hens and be beautiful. Flavors wonderful. Your recipes are very good and I like the Chinese recipes quite a bit. You have a new follower.

  4. Oh my goodness. This looks so delicious!! I will have to try this recipe for sure! I love the flavors in it!
    Kim-Cook IT Allergy Free

  5. thanks kim please try it and let me know! cornish hens sound like a great idea michelle (:

  6. This sounds fantastic! I have just started using five spice and I love it. Looking forward to trying this. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I love your food! I think you would like mine too... I am at Good for you for learning this so early in your life! I wish I knew all this in my twenties but better late than never!