One of my favorite work stories is the day I got a call from a guy who wanted to buy some possum meat. We get that type of call all the time — people looking for beaver, lion and squirrel — so this request was not too strange. I told him we did not sell possum, expecting that to be the end of it.
Instead he started to argue with me, saying that he was looking at our price list online and possum was on there as being a “stock item.” Baffled, I asked him for the item number. He gave it to me and I could barely contain my laughter as I said, “Sir, that’s not possum, it’s poussin — baby chickens.”
That happened years ago but it still makes me giggle.
For anyone else unfamiliar with poussin, they are basically a chicken a few weeks younger than a game hen. Once processed and packed, they weigh about 15-17 oz, making them ideal for a one-bird-per-person dinner.
I rarely ever buy them, but I had a recipe that I wanted to try out and it called for 2 each 3# chickens. Since I was only cooking for two people, I figured two poussin would work just fine.
The recipe was Roasted Chicken with Pistachio Salsa, originally from the June 2012 issue of Bon Appetit. Given the “meh” reviews on the corn and peppers part of the recipe, I decide to focus instead on the chicken and the salsa since that sounded the most interesting.
Although — tangent alert — I just really don’t get why you would call chopped nuts with chives, lemon zest and olive oil a salsa? For blogging purposes, I’ve renamed it pistachio relish. It’s not quite a pesto, but perhaps that would be even more fitting? I don’t know. Am I overthinking it too much? Probably.
The poussin sat overnight in a marinade of oil, herbs and garlic. The next day they smelled great. The sage and rosemary in the mix really worked some wonders.
While they cooked on their adorable little roasters (an old gift from my brother), I made the
salsa relish which was a quick and painless process:
The poussin were done cooking in about 35 minutes and dinner was ready!
I liked this recipe quite a bit considering how simple it was. The marinade for the chicken was nothing unique but it was flavorful and easy to throw together. The pistachio relish was what made the dinner different — in a good way, of course.
While I certainly enjoy pistachios, other than occasionally using them in biscotti I tend to just eat them right out of their salt-roasted shells. This relish was a savory take on them that I wouldn’t have thought of on my own. The subtle fruitiness of the nuts went really well with the lemon and chives — it was a strangely lovely melding. The amount of oil may seem a bit overboard but it infuses with the flavors of the other ingredients making each bite delicious.
The relish would probably be tasty over fish or some other grilled meats, but I can say for sure it is good mixed in with leftover farro, drizzled over a “big salad” and spooned over roasted veggies.