Winter Poussins with Watercress Stuffing

A superb dish to serve at a dinner party, Winter Poussins with Watercress Stuffing may be accompanied by saiiteed courgettes and boiled new potatoes.

4 poussins, cleaned and boned

1 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoon dried tarragon

2 oz. cup butter, melted

4 slices streaky bacon, rinds removed and finely chopped

1 oz. butter

1 onion, finely chopped

1 large bunch watercress, washed, shaken dry and finely chopped grated rind of

1 orange

1 orange, peeled, white pith removed and coarsely chopped

5 oz. cooked long-grain rice

2 teaspoon salt

5 teaspoon black pepper

1 bunch watercress, washed and shaken dry

Preheat the oven to fairly hot 375 °F (Gas Mark 5, 190°C).

First prepare the stuffing. In a large frying-pan, fry the bacon over moderate heat, stirring constantly, for 6 to 8 min- utes or until it is crisp and brown and has rendered all of its fat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon pieces to kitchen paper towels to drain. Set aside.

Add the butter to the bacon fat in the pan. When the foam subsides, add the onion and fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes or until it is soft and tran- slucent but not brown. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the onion and the cooking juices to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Add the watercress, orange rind, orange flesh, rice, salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix the ingredients together until they are thoroughly combined. Stir in the bacon pieces and set aside.

Lay the poussins out flat, skin side down, on four large sheets of aluminium foil. Sprinkle over half the salt, pepper and tarragon. Using a pastry brush, coat the poussins with half of the melted butter. Spoon a quarter. of the stuffing into the centre of each poussin.

Push the legs inside out so that the shape of the poussins are square. Tuck in the wings. Fold over the ends, then the sides, to make a neat parcel. With a trussing needle and string, close up the joints.

Brush the poussins with the remaining butter and season them with the remaining salt, pepper and tarragon. Bring the edges of the foil together up and over the birds to enclose them completely. Fold the edges to seal the parcel. Place the parcels in a large roasting tin and place the tin in the centre of the oven. Roast the poussins for 15 to 20 minutes or until the juices run out clear when the poussins are pierced with the point of a sharp knife.

Remove the roasting tin from the oven and pull the foil aside so that the poussins are uncovered. Return the tin to the oven and bake for a further 8 to 10 minutes or until the poussins are lightly browned. Remove the tin from the oven.

Transfer the poussins to a warmed serving dish. Remove and discard the string. Garnish with the watercress and serve immediately.

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