It was sunny yesterday and it looks like it might remain so for an hour or two more. I was desperate to get the barbecue out and use it for the first time all summer and do some classics like beer can chicken and grilled sardines, but cautious of this ever changing weather this summer, I decided not to risk something that might take a couple of hours and decided to beercan a poussin instead.
Quick thinkers will have realised that a poussin is a petite bird and that the average beercan won’t fit inside it, which is how michelada poussin came about. I rather like a pre-dinner drink and often keep cocktail sized cans of tomato juice so I can have a Bloody Mary. These looked like they’d fit a poussin perfectly. Worried that the tomato juice wouldn’t give enough steam, I replaced half of it with a can of Red Stripe. I then carefully wedged the can inside the bird and marinaded with homemade peri peri sauce before cooking a few hours later.
I didn’t actually get to cook my poussin over the barbecue as my neighbours decided to throw a raucous party with a full on sound system that drove us all indoors with the windows shut, but I was delighted to see that you can still beercan a bird in your oven with a minimum of hassle!
Michelada Peri Peri Poussin: one poussin serves one person and amounts are for one bird
- 1 poussin
- 1 teaspoon peri peri sauce
- 1 teaspoon tomato puree
- splash vinegar (anything except malt)
- drizzle of oil
- 1 cocktail sized can of tomato juice, half and half with beer
- 1 pair of latex gloves
First make your peri peri sauce. It’s easier than falling off a log and it’s brilliant because you can add as much heat or flavour to it as you like giving you the chance to experiment and customise
Peri Peri Sauce:
- 8 large red chillies
- 2 scotch bonnets
- 4 cloves roast garlic
- vinegar (not malt) to loosen
- juice of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- two sprigs fresh thyme
Roast all the chillies until blackened and blistered. This should take about 25 minutes at 200℃. Make sure you wear latex gloves and once the chillies are cool enough to handle, top and tail chop the red ones finely. Remove the seeds from one of the scotch bonnets. Then put everything in the blender and blitz until a thick puree. Add in the lemon juice and enough vinegar to make the consistency like a thick ketchup. Pour into a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge. It’s pretty hot, and fairly addictive, especially used raw, cooking mellows it to a pleasant tingle.
To do the poussin, pour half the can of tomato juice out and top up with beer. Wedge the can up inside the bird so it is literally perched on it. Mix the peri peri sauce and tomato puree with a splash of vinegar and oil to make it loose enough to rub over the bird. Make sure you wear latex gloves to do this and work the marinade into all the nooks and crannies and leave to soak in for an hour or two.
To cook, either use your kettle barbecue with the coals on either side and the poussin in the middle to cook indirectly for about 30 minutes before giving the skin a crisp up over the heat or pop in the oven on a tray to cook for 40 minutes at 180℃. The liquid inside the can steams the poussin as it cooks so the meat is super succulent and the vertical roasting means all the skin is equally crisp. I kept it simple, roasting a few tomatoes in the tray under the bird as a side dish to soak up the juices.
Once the bird is done, set to one side to rest, making sure there is a tray or bowl to catch the juices. Ten minutes will make it even more juicy and delicious and more to the point allows the can to cool enough that you can pull it out to make the poussin easier to eat. Dust the skin with some sea salt and then sit down to perfect poultry.
The meat is so juicy, you need some flatbread to soak it up, but as you pull the legs and wings off it’ll be dripping down your hands too. Don’t miss a morsel of the meat and revel in the good proportion of skin to meat compared to a normal chook. There’s something incredibly decadent about a whole bird to yourself and it gets round the who likes what bit dilemma nicely. I found one whole poussin and some flatbread was incredibly filling, but utterly indulgent and delicious. It didn’t stop me wanting to demolish a second crispy skinned spicy little number…