Whatever you think about the rituals surrounding Valentine’s day or romantic meals in general, it’s useful to have a recipe for a small roast which neatly serves one or two.

Poussin sounds fancy but even the corn-fed kind is relatively affordable: there’s a surprising amount of meat on them and it feels luxurious to share a whole bird between two—or have one all to yourself.

Even when you consider the trimmings, you can generously feed 2 people for far less than the cost of a similarly decent restaurant meal.

… I love the combination of aromatics here, but change them according to what you like …

It’s straightforward to make and the recipe is flexible: if you don’t want to use poussin, adjust the amounts and cooking times for a full-size bird or joints. I love the combination of aromatics here, but change them according to what you like. The buttery roast potatoes are actually my favourite part, but make mash or saute them or use another vegetable if you prefer.

This makes enough for 2 people as a generous main course. Use a 450g poussin to serve 1.

Recipe: Roast poussin with nutmeg, sage, lemon and garlic + trimmings


  • . 4 – 6 medium floury potatoes (about 600g – 750g; I use ordinary baking potatoes), peeled and cut into large chunks
  • . 75g butter, spreadably soft (you'll use 25g for the bird and 50g for the potatoes)
  • . 3 – 4 tablespoons vegetable oil, any kind
  • . 1 x 500g poussin
  • . A quarter of a lemon
  • . ¾ tsp salt
  • . A few grinds/sprinkles of pepper
  • . ½ teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
  • . 2 – 3 sprigs roughly chopped fresh sage, or any other sturdy herb you like (or a few pinches of dried herbs)
  • . 1 whole head garlic, left unpeeled and sliced in half crosswise
  • . About 100 - 200ml water
  • . 2 handfuls of frozen peas


  1. Put the oil in a high-sided roasting tin large enough to hold all the potato pieces. Place inside the oven and preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius/170 fan.
  2. While the oven is heating up, bring a large pan of salted water to a strong boil over a high heat. Add the chunks of potato to the water. Boil potatoes for 4 – 5 minutes or until they're turning translucent at the edges.
  3. Drain potatoes well, shaking them about in a sieve/colander until the edges become fluffy. Set aside.
  4. Place poussin in a small roasting tray. Rub all over with 25 g soft butter. This will be very generous; don't fight it. Squeeze over 1 lemon quarter, add the squeezed shell flesh-side down to the tin.
  5. Season with salt and pepper very well all over, sprinkling some inside the cavity. Dust all over with the nutmeg.
  6. Put the halved garlic head cut side down beside the bird, adding any loose cloves to the tin. Scatter over half the sage leaves. Add about 100 - 150ml water, or enough to thinly cover the bottom of the pan.
  7. Once the oven's at heat, take out the hot roasting tin and add the potatoes to the fat, turning to coat them. Be careful of spattering. Add remaining 50g butter to the potatoes.
  8. Put potatoes on the bottom shelf and poussin on the middle shelf. Roast both for 50 minutes, or until both are completely cooked and well browned. Baste the bird and turn potatoes every 15 – 20 minutes or so. Top up water if it dries out.
  9. Check the poussin for doneness by poking a knife into the thickest part of the thigh: if there are pinkish juices, let it cook for 5 more minutes, covered with foil if it's getting too brown.
  10. Let bird rest for 10 minutes. If potatoes need more browning, leave in oven; if not, keep warm til ready.
  11. Cook the peas: bung frozen peas in saucepan (I use the ex-potato pan), cover with a little water, heat for a few minutes, tasting to make sure they're warmed through. Drain.
  12. The poussin should have made its own thin gravy. You can also make a quick sauce by pouring all the juices into a small saucepan and let it bubble over a medium heat til reduced. Add the remaining half of the sage leaves, scrape the lemon pulp from the wedge, and squeeze out the soft, sweet garlic and mash it into the sauce. Mix well and season to taste.
  13. Carve the poussin by removing the trussing, slicing off the legs, thighs, and wings before removing the breast in one piece. Serve with potatoes, peas, and sauce.

About The Author

History of Art graduate from SOAS (jointly with UCL). I cook, eat, and observe the world. Then I write about it and share it with you. This is a unilateral decision.

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