25g caraway seeds, lightly toasted and roughly ground
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
20g soft dark brown sugar
150g unsalted butter, melted
6 poussins (chickens)
180g peeled and cooked chestnuts
100g soft prunes
150g pancetta, cut into 1cm cubes
1 ripe pear (william or similar), cored and cut into 1cm cubes
1 slice sourdough, lightly toasted and cut into 1cm cubes
20g parsley leaves, finely chopped
18 sage leaves, 6 finely shredded to get 2 tsp, the rest left whole
80ml sunflower oil
Put half the caraway, garlic and sugar in the small bowl of a food processor (or spice grinder) with two teaspoons of salt. Blitz to a paste, then set aside a third of the mix. Put the rest in a large bowl with the butter, then massage all over the poussins. Cover with clingfilm and refrigerate for at least an hour and up to 24 hours: the longer, the better.
Take the poussins out of the fridge half an hour or so before cooking, so they come up to room temperature. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Mix the chestnuts and prunes in a bowl, add boiling water to cover and leave to soak for about 15 minutes. Drain the chestnuts and prunes, then chop into roughly 2cm pieces and put in a medium-sized bowl.
Meanwhile, heat a 28cm (or thereabouts) nonstick frying pan on a high flame and, once very hot, fry the pancetta for two minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to crisp. Add the pear and fry for two minutes, stirring from time to time, until golden. Tip into the chestnut bowl, then stir in the sourdough, parsley, shredded sage and the remaining caraway, garlic and sugar paste. Divide the stuffing mix between the poussins (you should be able to get about 100g into each of them) then put the poussins side by side in a baking tray in which they’ll sit snugly.
Cover with foil, roast for 25 minutes, then remove the foil, turn down the heat to 200C/390F/gas mark 6 and roast for 20 minutes more, basting once or twice. Turn the oven back up to 220C/425F/gas mark 7 and roast for a final 10 minutes, until the poussins are golden-brown, lightly crisp and cooked through. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
While the poussins are roasting, heat the oil in a small saucepan on a medium-high flame, then fry the sage leaves for about 20 seconds, turning a few times, until bright green and crisp. Transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Transfer the birds to a platter (or individual serving plates) and spoon any pan juices over the top. Scatter with the crisp sage leaves and serve.
Recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi via The Guardian
Yotam Ottolenghi’s roast poussins stuffed with chestnut, pancetta and pear. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay