Thyme Grilled Poussin Recipe

This Thyme Grilled Poussin Recipe is for thyme poussin. Poussin is a small, young chicken, slightly smaller than a cornish game hen and slightly bigger than most squab. You can find them at most specialty markets that have a good selection of specialty poultry. They have a tender, delicate flavor similar to chicken but does not tend to dry out as much due to the small size which allows quick cooking. This recipe is a classic southern French-style grill recipe. It is simple and delicious!

What you will need:

  • Poussin – If your local gourmet market does not have these, try a dedicated poultry supplier. You will need one per person (unless you are really hungry and can eat two!). If you really can’t find poussin for this grill recipe, you can substitute cornish game hens.
  • Large bunch of fresh thyme – It is really important to use fresh thyme for this grill recipe. You’ll need a good handful if you are making 2 – 4 poussin. No need to chop it up!
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil

Thyme Grilled Poussin Recipe Instructions:

  1. Defrost your poussin if they are previously frozen.
  2. Cut down both sides of the poussin backbone, removing it completely. This is easiest with a sturdy kitchen shears. If you use a knife, be careful, you have to exert some pressure and you don’t want to cut yourself!
  3. Open out the poussin and lay them interior down on a solid work surface (breasts facing up). Smack them hard with your fist to break the breast bone and flatten the poussin. You will be cooking them in a flattened position like this. To secure the drumsticks you can cut small holes in the skin at the base of the breast and poke the ends of the legs through them.
  4. Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil on the birds (enough to coat completely) and rub over all surfaces.

    poussinthyme 2
  5. Now take that nice fresh thyme and rub it on all surfaces of the poussin. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty, really rub the herbs on the birds all over. The more you rub, the more flavor will stick!
  6. Generously pepper both sides with freshly cracked black pepper.
  7. Now let the birds marinate for at least an hour, lightly covered with plastic wrap on a plate at room temperature. You can let them sit for up to 4 hours but if you are going to go much longer than an hour, I’d refrigerate them. Take them out of the fridge an hour or so before cooking so that they can come up to room temperature.
  8. Get your grill or fire pit going.
  9. Wipe off the excess thyme branches and reserve. Salt your birds to taste on both sides with coarse sea salt.

  10. Throw them on the grill, breast side down first. Cook only about 5 – 10 minutes on the breast skin side down for this grill recipe to avoid burning the skin. When they have a nice golden color and get grill marks, flip them onto their interior surface. Continue cooking about 10 minutes. Cooking time varies slightly depending on the size of your poussin and the heat of your grill.

  11. In the last few minutes of cooking, throw the reserved thyme branches on the coals or fire and cover. This allows the savory burning thyme smoke to permeate the poussin and really adds to the aroma and flavor!
  12. Remove from the grill and let sit, covered in aluminum foil for a few minutes before serving.

That’s it for this grill recipe! Simple, isn’t it?

Serve with your favorite sides. Grilled or sauteed vegetables work great.


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