Thursday Night Smackdown: Ladies' Night Poussin

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Yes, I ate a baby chicken and no, I’m not sorry.

Dinner tonight comes thanks to douche-baggy pretty boy Tyler Florence’s Eat This Book: honey and soy glazed poussin with curried green apples.

I should state for the record that I have no real reason to believe that Tyler Florence is a douchebag. It’s just a feeling I have, but I’m pretty sure he’s That Guy. For example, this recipe comes from a section of the book called “devouring,” which contains a collection of recipes with no discernible theme, other than the fact that they’re all meant to be eaten. Other sections include Consuming, Tasting and Noshing and are equally motley. Why, Tyler? The recipes look pretty good; why don’t you want me to find them?

But his shrimp and grits recipe is the shit and his book was 50% off, so there you go.  I’m such an enabler.

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Wine on an empty stomach adds whole new layers of interest to simple cooking!

Brian is will “working” in the form of skipping out on 75% of a conference to visit every eatery in the New Orleans metro area, so this was a solo smackdown. When I ran to the store after work to get my ingredients I remembered that I hadn’t eaten all day*, so I picked up a baguette, some salume and an aged gouda to tide me over during cooking. (Crusty bread + aged gouda + honey = ruining my appetite.)

*I’ll give you 2 guesses as to how often I’m actually so busy that I forget to eat altogether, but I bet you’ll only need one.

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How do you like them apples? No really, what do you think? I’m of two minds.

I know apples are not currently the most seasonal of fruits, but the crisp curried apples sounded like they would be tasty with the sweet and salty poussin. Also, it’s hot today, we haven’t re-installed the AC units yet, and this involves no heat – just chopping.

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Go go Gadget Macro setting!

Diced apples go into a bowl with parley, fresh thyme, curry powder, salt, lime juice and maple syrup. Or honey, if you thought you had maple syrup but then discovered you were out and didn’t want to leave the house again to go find some.* Which is sad, because I was looking forward to its unlikely presence. Dark maple syrup is often my secret ingredient in savory dishes when I want a hit of sweetness with some depth but don’t want the sulphuriness of molasses. Don’t tell.

*Perhaps this is the case because your husband finished it and didn’t tell you, but we can only speculate. 

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Tyler Florence calls this a “sauce” even though it’s clearly a salad. Because he’s a douche.

I don’t know what it is about these ingredients, but they make magic happen. First, you heap them all in a bowl and they just sit there looking vaguely fresh and tasty. What else are they supposed to do? They’re produce.

Then you toss them together, and suddenly this gorgeous smell wafts out of the bowl and you wish you could turn it into a shower gel so you could douse yourself with it every morning without getting parsley bits in your hair. It’s sweet and tart and herbal, lightly fragrant from the curry powder – there’s just the right amount – and fresh. I set it aside to meld while I made the poussin, and knowing it was waiting for me made me excited to eat.

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This is the BIGGEST QUARTER IN THE WORLD.

I have to be honest and tell you that the original recipe called for squab. I’m normally very anal about following Smackdown recipes closely and tracking down accurate, quality ingredients. But I didn’t leave the office until almost 6:30, and the first two places I tried were all squabbed out. So I grabbed a poussin.

Secretly I was kinda glad, because I’m not really sure I want to eat something whose relatives attempt to shit on me from above on a daily basis.

Poussin is baby chicken. It’s sometimes called the “veal of chicken,” and it may also be the “new black.” It isn’t just a Cornish Hen; the birds are younger and smaller. They’re typically around 3 weeks old and weigh less than 1 pound. So you’re eating a baby chick, which I’m not sure I love, but it’s better than eating a flying rat.* I hacked the backbone out and cracked the breastbone so the bird would lay flat in the pan.

*I think. 

I fully admit that I have a strong anti-pigeon bias because one of their ilk successfully landed a enormous deuce on my head on my way to a job interview in 2004. Fucker.

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You’re getting very sleepy. You’re getting very sleepy. You’re not looking at my dirty stove. When I say “poussin” you will wake up, come to my house and clean my range.

The glaze on the bird doesn’t come from a marinade, nor is it brushed on during cooking: it’s made directly in the pan, and the poussin is laid into it. Butter and honey melt together over medium heat, and the salted and peppered bird goes in skin-side down. I put a sauce pan on top to keep the bird flat and ensure that as much skin as possible would stay in contact with the hot pan.

The honey was threatening to burn, so I turned the heat down and put my faith in Tyler “too cool for school” Florence. Which was not easy.

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And on Thursday I made the poussin; and all was good. Amen.

When I flipped the poussin over, the skin was a gorgeous mahogany. I brushed some soy over the bird and left it on the stove to finish cooking.

I’m not going to say that I like Tyler Florence any more as a person, but I started to trust him a little more at this point. If I saw him bleeding in the street, I would only laugh for a few seconds before I went to help.

Okay, maybe a few minutes. Point is, I would help eventually.

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If you imagine that I cut the apples into large chunks, this could be a mammoth turkey! But neither of those things is true.

In the end, this is a pretty simple dish with plenty of gorgeous color of its own, so I just heaped everything onto a plate and called it a night.

This was a great meal for a flying solo, lazy, warm night. The salad required little more than 2 minutes of chopping, and the poussin was done entirely on the stovetop and took a total of 20 minutes. The tart apple coupled with the lime and curry was quite bracing, and was a great counterpoint to the sweet-salty, moist poussin; the poussin was almost too delicate for the strongly flavored fruit, which is why Ty-Ty recommends the more richly-flavored squab. The poussin skin was crisp and flavorful.

I did feel like a tool eating the itty-bitty drumstick. So I decided to just go with it, and stuck my pinky finger out; unfortunately, I couldn’t locate my monocle. Then I realized I was sitting alone at my kitchen counter eating a 2-inch long drumstick with my pinky sticking out, which probably meant I looked like a tool. So I stopped. Also, I maybe ate a little too much bread and cheese, so I was actually too full to finish the whole bird.

The glaze-in-the-pan method is definitely one I’ll be going back to – it’s a quick way to create a flavorful dish, would lend itself to lots of different proteins, and I can already think of 10 different variations. The apples seems like they’d pair well with sweet barbecue dishes, and might be interesting cooked down and served with pork.

Tyler, I still disapprove of your precious chapter titles and sometimes I want to shoot spitballs at your head to watch them get lodged in your hair product, but you glaze a mean squab. And I mean that in the nicest possible way.

0 thoughts on “Thursday Night Smackdown: Ladies' Night Poussin

  1. I’ve never heard of Tyler whathisname but I’ll agree with you. He’s a douche. He titled a chapter ‘Noshing’. What more proof do I need!!!

    And I hate pigeons too – nasty, ratty little things.

    But I like your apples just fine! The whole thing looks delicious.

  2. ‘better than a flying rat..’ I’d hope so. For the rat’s sake, as well as yours. But I digress.

    Looks good. Apples – yep, I like that idea. Different. And stove top is good, too.

    Got any of that aged gouda left?

  3. LOL at the pigeon layin’ a deuce….it’s supposed to be good luck…do you get the gig?

    The poussin and your cooking method are very cool. I love the colour and too bad for baby birds…I’d have two!

  4. There’s something about the word “nosh” that I find a little icky…I’d be a little suspicious of anyone who used it as a chapter title LOL. That poussin looks amazingly good, I love the crispy skin and never have the willpower to peel it off and ignore it…the apple sauce/salad looks fab too. :)

  5. Ooch, poor Tyler! I think he’s just blissfully unaware of how douchey he appears at times, but I’m sure he means no harm– certainly not when he’s helped you produce a beautiful bird :)

  6. The thing about Tyler is his total lack of on camera personality. All Right! Yes, he says that too much. He also has Sandra Lee’s annoying habit of calling things, “Super Simple”. Grrrrr. But I do love his recipes to death. He’s my go-to guy for the classics.

    I’ve been wanting to do small birds for a while. I’ll look into this for my next dinner party. I have no problem eating pigeons. Heck, it’s REVENGE. My problem is with seagulls. I was on vacation a few years ago and was walking down the street on my way to dinner when a flock of seagulls flew overhead and let it all out. I had tons of seagull crap all over my favorite dress.

    I really hate the word “nosh”.

  7. syd: then my work here is done.

    marc: keep a stock on hand at all times?

    esz: me neither, at least not with that combo of flavors. but it was definitely a winner.

    KJ: right? because you know what word sticks in my craw? nosh.

    nosh my ass, tyler florence.

    forkful: i do, but i’m not so sure i want to share. (i’m not good at sharing)

    peter: that’s what everyone told me at the time, and yes, i did.

    laura: peel it off and ignore it?!! that would never have occurred to me. for shame.

    manggy: it’s true. and yet…does it make him any less of a douche?

    elle: me too. instead of saving the leftovers, i gave my dogs a special poussin treat. because i am a sucker.

    rachel: see above for my feelings on the word “nosh.” but i do agree that his recipes can be really good, esp for stuff like roast chicken or mac and cheese.

  8. i will pimp for tyler’s black-eyed peas and collard greens. and that’s bold. ’cause a man can get shot real quick in these hills for messing up the greens and beans.

    i also have several friends who experience foodgasms when i make his baked rigatoni with eggplant and spicy sausage.

    that said, i also am morally opposed to the popped-collar pomposity of chapter titles that induce the screaming heebie-jeebies in you.

  9. michelle, I just sent you an email check it out and let me know what you think. Also you’re right our tax dollars are going towards Brian’s vacation in New Orleans. I can’t complain b/c sometimes I do the same thing! Also I shouldn’t read your blog when I am starving!!! I can’t wait for lunch

  10. hahahaha DEUCE. steve and I use that euphemism all the time. hehehe.

    I would have eaten too much of the bread and gouda too. I loooove aged gouda.

    but the bird looks marvelous, michelle. and I kinda like tyler florence’s recipes, from time to time. I can see why you call him douchey though.

  11. Came across your website from my oh-so-useful comments and I gotta hand it to ya – your blog is hilarious in a funny east-coast way. As a west coaster, I can appreciate that.

    PS: Tyler Florence is a douche. Then again, I think most chefs are douches.

  12. dan: the dessert chapter is called “licking the plate clean.”

    jess: i read the email, and the answer is hell to the yes.

    karen: gracias!

    melissa: his recipes are actually often good. which makes it all the more painful that he’s such a douche.

    norman: thanks for stopping in, i’m glad you like. i’m also glad we have your support on proposition “tyler florence = douche.”

    courtney: thanks! granny smiths are one of my favorite apples, and i eat ‘em year round, too.

  13. At work until 6:30? And missed lunch? Sadly, I can imagine. . .I once by mistake ordered poussins from Fresh Direct and didn’t know what to do with them. I ended up following a recipe for cornish game hens, without success; they’re just to delicate. I think I’ll try this – the honey/soy combo sounds yummy. I’m curious, though, what are some of the 10 other ways you’d use this?

  14. this post was VERY but VERY funny with a cool recipe that is relatively painless (my kinda recipe) – except there is nowhere in nashville that one can buy squab on the fly. and i mean nowhere. at all. you have to advance order it.

    anyway – i feel that reading this post was time spent well, as opposed to the many hours a day in my life that i waste that i will never ever get back…

    love you. mean it.

  15. A sauce? A salsa, MAYBE, but that would even be pushing it. Whatever Ty-bo calls it, I can imagine how great it all must taste together. And that mahogany skin on the baby bird.

  16. 1. great title to the post

    2. tyler florence is probably one of the biggest douchebags on tv, next to that double douche of a loser guy fartiari. his douchiness has no boundries. but tyler is a close #2 with his overuse of the word ‘awesome’ – he may beat out ‘rock of loves’ brett michaels for using that word more than ‘the’ in a sentence!

    oh, and great lookin’ poussin!

  17. Okay, I WAS going to say that I kind of like Tyler, but now I can’t because I’m afraid you will all throw pigeon shit at me and not like me anymore. I’m also nervously wondering if I ever (accidentally) used the word awesome in my comments. :{

    Oh well, I really like this dish. The recipe looks “super simple” and the poussin looks “awesome”! Hehehe! ;)

  18. Devouring, consuming, noshing… So basically Tyler Florence has published a book of food that he suggests you eat? How helpful of him. The worst thing in the world would be to nosh when you should be chewing.

    Is ‘noshing’ even a word? I’m familiar with ‘nosh’. I object to him verb-ing it.
    Yes, I did just verb-ise the word ‘verb’. Yes, I am a filthy hypocrite.

    That looks so ridiculously tasty; I love the colours.

  19. rebecca: i think you could use this to cook lots of different glazed meats on the stovetop; i think chicken thighs would be especially tasty, as would pork loin. you could also vary the flavors in the glaze – use maple syrup, add some fruit juice, etc.

    claudia: hell, do it with chicken. catch a squirrel in your backyard and do it with that. in any case, i’m glad i could help bring meaning and structure to your life.

    LiR: i know, the skin was killer. my main complaint with poussin is that there just isn’t enough skin for chicken skin-freaks like me.

    WANF: thanks!

    susan: you can use the word “awesome” all you want. because you? not a douche!

    indigo: i once found myself at a dinner party devouring when i should have been consuming, and i was HORRIFIED. i couldn’t show my face at the country club for weeks.

  20. Poussin… Hum that was a first for me. First time I heared that word… There is something wrong about that word… It does not sound right! I ate a Poussin… Nop, defenetly I will not eat Poussin, but I’m quite happy you did!

  21. Looks VERY good! Tyler. Not sure what to make of him, but his food does look good. Maybe he knows what he’s doing? Maybe he’s just a “natural,” you know… like Rachel Ray. :}

    So, last year we did the same thing in NOLA. Never went to the conference. Only signed up in the first place because it was in NO. We just like to eat the food. Lots and lots of food. There’s no place like it. And The Ritz has good nannies. Very important.

  22. I loved reading this. Damn those pidgeons!

    The combination is really nice here – I haven’t seen it before. I’ll have to remember this next time I decide to cook a bird.

  23. for the first third of this entry, i kept misreading it as “poisson,” until i got to the photo of the naked bird, when i exclaimed, “hey, that aint no fish!” i would feel stupid about this if it didnt prove i am the slightest bit bilingual. [ie i know some french words, but obviously not the right ones. im selectively bilingual, it works out well for me.]

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