Poussins (or Cornish Hens) à la Russe

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Poussins (or Cornish Hens) à la Russe (Wendy Goodfriend)

"Poussins, baby chickens weighing about 1 1/2 pounds each, are very similar to Cornish hens. Juicy and tender, they can be roasted whole, stewed, or grilled. If poussins are not available, use Cornish hens of about the same weight. I prepare the birds à la Russe, or in the Russian style: The poussins are halved and cooked mostly skin side down in a skillet with a weight on top to make them very crusty outside while remaining juicy inside. I use two bricks wrapped in aluminum foil as weights; you can place a skillet with a weight inside it on top of the birds to get the same result." --Jacques Pépin

Recipe: Poussins (or Cornish Hens) à la Russe

    Ingredients:
  • 2 poussins or Cornish hens (about 1 1/2 pounds each)
  • 2 teaspoons paprika, preferably Spanish
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
    Instructions:
  1. Cut the poussins (or Cornish hens) lengthwise in half and press on the halves with your hands to flatten them. Make an incision about 1/2 inch deep at the junction of the thighs and drumsticks to help the birds cook more evenly.
  2. Mix together the paprika, salt, cumin, and cayenne and spread onto the skin and inside the halved poussins.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan large enough to hold the 4 halves without overlapping. When the oil is hot, arrange the chicken halves skin side up in the pan and cook over medium-high heat, uncovered, for about 8 minutes.
  4. Turn the halves skin side down and place two foil-wrapped bricks (or a heavy skillet with a weight in it) on top to press down on the meat. Cook over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken skin is crusty and dark brown and the meat is cooked through.
  5. Serve with the natural juices and a sprinkling of the chives.
Jacques on the set of Heart & Soul with Poussins (or Cornish Hens) à la Russe and Broiled Maple Sweet Potatoes.
Jacques on the set of Heart & Soul with Poussins (or Cornish Hens) à la Russe and Broiled Maple Sweet Potatoes. (Wendy Goodfriend)

Recipe from Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2015 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.