Bulgur-Stuffed Poussin with Preserved Lemon– Honey Glaze
“Stuffing poultry with a mixture of grains, dried fruit, and nuts is very common in Middle Eastern cuisine. At the same time, I’m a sucker for a sticky-sweet barbecue sauce on poultry. That’s my jam! The combination of honey and tart-salty preserved lemon works really well with the meaty poussin. It’s like Levantine tradition meets American tradition.” ACTIVE 35 MIN; TOTAL 3 HR 10 MIN SERVES 4
Poussin turns tender, juicy, and fragrant thanks to a Persianinspired, sweet spice marinade and preserved lemon–honey glaze. The dried fruit–studded bulgur filling gives you a built-in side dish. One poussin makes a perfect single serving; if using plumper Cornish hens, split each in half to serve two. 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2 lemons) 31/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided 1 tsp. ground coriander 1 tsp. ground cumin 1 tsp. ground ginger 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp. black pepper 4 (1-lb.) poussins or 2 (11/2 -lb.) Cornish game hens 1/2 cup uncooked coarse or medium bulgur, rinsed in cool water and drained 1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries 11/4 cups lower-sodium chicken broth, divided 1/4 cup salted roasted pistachios, chopped 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 1/4 cup honey 1/4 tsp. saffron threads 1 1 / 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced preserved lemon peel 2 Tbsp. fresh mint leaves, torn 2 Tbsp. fresh basil leaves, torn
1. Whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, 11/2 teaspoons salt, coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, and pepper in a large bowl. Sprinkle poussins evenly with 11/2 teaspoons salt. Add poussins to marinade, turning to coat and rubbing marinade all over birds, inside and out. Cover and chill 2 hours.
2. About 1 hour before roasting the birds, make the stuffing: Stir together bulgur, apricots, cranberries, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring 3/4 cup broth to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high. Pour hot broth over bulgur mixture. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 1 hour. Fluff with a fork. (The bulgur should still have a little tooth to it. It will finish cooking inside the poussins.) Add pistachios, walnuts, and parsley; stir to combine.
3. Preheat oven to 500°F. Remove poussins from marinade, and pat dry with paper towels. Discard marinade. Stuff poussins evenly with bulgur mixture (about 1/2 cup each). Loosely tie legs together with kitchen twine, and tuck wing tips under. Place poussins on a wire rack set inside a shallow roasting pan or rimmed baking sheet.
4. Roast in preheated oven until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Decrease oven temperature to 350°F without opening oven door, and roast until poussins are golden brown, juices run clear when poussin is pierced with a knife, and stuffing temperature registers 160°F, 25 to 30 minutes.
5. Transfer poussins to a platter or tray; cover to keep warm. Remove wire rack from pan. Pour remaining 1/2 cup broth into pan with poussin drippings; stir and scrape bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen browned bits. Pour broth mixture into a small saucepan. Add honey and saffron, and bring to a simmer over medium-low, stirring often. Add preserved lemon peel, and simmer until syrupy, 5 to 8 minutes.
6. To serve, divide poussins among 4 plates. If serving Cornish hens, spoon about 1/2 cup stuffing onto each of 4 plates. Cut Cornish hens in half; divide among plates. Spoon lemon-honey glaze over birds, and garnish with mint and basil.
WINE Herby, peppery Lebanese red: 2015 Chateau Musar Musar Jeune