Poussin braised in coconut milk with ginger, garlic and lime

Poussins are very common in France.  They are extremely tender and even better, ready in half the time it takes to cook a normal-size chicken.  This is the dish to turn to when you come home late and need dinner on the table within the hour!  The results are deliciously satisfying and a whole poussin per person looks pretty spectacular.

I believe its always best to cook with fresh ingredients, however, a lot of the Asian aromatics are not available in my local green grocers.   So, when I make the journey to Chinatown (in the 13th arrondisssement),  I stock up on lime leaves, birds eye chilis, lemon grass, galangal etc. – bring them home and freeze them.  Wash the items first, then air-dry or wipe with a soft cloth to remove any moisture, place in a freezer bag and pop in the freezer.  They will keep for up to 6 months.

Poussin braised in coconut milk with ginger, garlic and lime

Poussin braised in coconut milk with ginger, garlic and lime

Ingredients

  • Serves 4
  • 4 Poussins or cornish game hens
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or substitute coconut oil)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 thumb size knob of ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, trimmed of hard outer leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 birds eye chili
  • 1 400 ml can unsweetened coconut milk (about 2 cups)
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 lime leaves (if available)
  • 2 limes, zest and juice from one, the other sliced for serving
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 180° C (350° F)
  2. Heat oil in a medium size dutch oven or an oven proof pot. Add the garlic, ginger, lemon grass and chili and sauté for 1 - 2 minutes to release the flavours. Add the coconut milk, 1/2 onion, lime leaves, lime zest, cinnamon sticks and sea salt. (I usually throw in the lime wedges as well.) Bring to a simmer and add the poussin, breast side up. Spoon some of the sauce over the birds and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Cover the pot and place in the preheated oven.
  3. Braise 45 minutes. Remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid. Baste the poussin with the sauce and return to the oven without the lid. Cook another 15 minutes or until the skin of the birds turns golden brown and crispy.
  4. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the birds to a serving dish, cover and keep warm. Put the pot back on the stove top on medium high heat and slightly reduce the sauce then strain into a bowl. Scatter the coriander leaves and fresh lime wedges over the poussins and serve with the sauce alongside. Steamed rice and a salad would be perfect accompaniments.
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