I was later to the market than usual on Saturday and my favorite chicken stall had sold out of medium sized birds. There remained very large ones to feed a family or these neat little numbers she called coquelets.
A coquelet is a small chicken, aka a poussin–(though I read that an American poussin is larger*).
The one I bought on Saturday morning weighed two pounds, perfect for the recipe I remembered in Diana Henry’s lovely and unusual book Crazy Water and Pickled Lemons.
A simple marinade and a quick roast made this an agreeable and easy supper for the two of us–a treat in fact, with the oranges and lemon/lime twist in the marinade.
*1 small chicken–coquelet-poussin–(if you can’t find a small chicken, a larger one could be spatchcocked to cut the cooking time)
2 oranges–quartered and then each quarter, halved
1 sweet potato--sliced in rounds (optional)
juice of 2 oranges + the rind of one**
juice of a lemon or lime + the rind
2 tblsps balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves–peeled and crushed
2 tblsps olive oil
2 tblsps dried oregano
a few thyme sprigs
salt and pepper
Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl.
Put in the chicken, breast side down and let it rest in the mixture, for 3 or 4 hours in our case–overnight if you can.
set the oven to 180C/350F
- Put the chicken in a roasting tin surrounded snugly by the orange pieces and sweet potato slices (if using).
- Pour a little of the marinade over the chicken.
- Roast in the oven for an hour or more–depending on the size of the chicken.
- Baste with the marinade two or three times.
- Let the chicken rest a little, keeping it warm under a sheet of foil.
- Halve the bird from front to back, along the breast bone and the back bone–best done with kitchen sheers.
- Remove the orange slices and the sweet potato slices to a warm dish.
- Deglaze the pan with a couple of tablespoons of water, scraping off the sticky bits to dissolve them in the liquid.
- Heat the gravy through gently, while stirring.
- Pour over the plated half-a-chicken and sweet potatoes.
**(Meredith wasn’t sure what the rind is and how it differs from the pith. Same thing but the first is solid and obtained by carefully running a knife under the skin/rind, lifting it from the orange with as little of the white as you can. The second (pith) is scraped from the orange with a scraper/pither or a call- it- what-you-willer!)