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Poultry resources

22 October 2003 by
Poultry resources
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Alex Atkins
Poussins, quail and squabs are poultry pygmies. They are reared for the table, but the latter two are still close enough to their wild origins to be cooked pink or rare like most feathered game. Because all three are of similar size they can be prepared and cut up in much the same way. Young birds have pliable bones. They don't need heavy-duty chopping. In fact, they present better when the bones are severed at the joints, without snapping. As with other poultry, quality and price vary. A Bresse squab is a luxury item, specially fattened and handled by the farmer, whereas most quail or poussins are factory-farmed. Not all are, though. The differences between the cheap and the expensive ends of the market are less marked than with chicken or duck, because immature meat isn't strongly flavoured. Hanging will have a greater influence than any other factor. But if it is going to be hung, young poultry can't be scalded, washed and gutted on a production line. The risk of food poisoning or spoilage is too great. Buying "New York dressed" (ie, ungutted) birds gives chefs a better chance of optimising the taste. In his Poussin restaurant at Parkhill, near Lyndhurst, on the edge of the New Forest, Alex Aitken has organised suppliers (in Smithfield Market and in Périgord) who provide him with a range of poultry. Some birds are hung to order; others he matures and butchers himself. Undrawn poultry should always hang for at least a week at chill temperatures to develop flavour before preparation and cooking. Drawing small poultry The head end: cut around the skin as close to the head as possible. Lay the bird on its side with the back facing you. Split the skin down the neck from head end to carcass. Remove the tubes and crop. Cut off the neck and head as close to the carcass as possible. Scrape away any remaining fat and gristle on the skin and fold it over the back. The tail end: with a sharp-tipped knife, cut through the skin and thin flesh below the breast-bone. Cutting towards the parson's nose, remove the vent so as to expose the inside of the carcass. Insert two fingers and pull out the gizzard and intestines. Remove the liver and heart (sometimes they can be left in and roasted with the bird, providing that the bile is undamaged.) Trimming legs and wings Wings: there are three joints. To prepare as for suprÁªmes, cut around the wings on the nearest section to the breast. With a sharp knife, scrape around the bone to expose it and the joint attached to the winglets. Twist off the winglets at the joint without breaking the bone. Legs: if the bird is to be simply roasted, cut off the feet about 2cm above the drumstick joint. Otherwise, lance the skin around the drumstick joint and twist off the feet so as to extract any tendons in the leg. [Alex Aitken](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/Article.aspx?liArticleID=45198) [How much for how many](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/Article.aspx?liArticleID=45199) [Alex Aitken's roasting tips for small birds ](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/Article.aspx?liArticleID=45200) [Roast and poached poussin with crayfish, chanterelles and summer truffles ](http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/Article.aspx?liArticleID=201094) [Madeira sauce with summer truffle and chanterelles (serves one)Photo © Sam Bailey
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