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Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
I think I might be hungry. It’s week 3 now and fresher’s week is almost entirely forgotten, survived only by glances at the half empty bottle of wine that never seems to leave the kitchen. Pizza boxes litter the corners of my cramped kitchen, causing a shudder. I want proper food. Comfort food. Autumn is in full swing now and the roast is back in the hearts and minds of impoverished students up and down the country. The deadlines are too tight to hunch over the oven for hours, however, and the bank accounts have almost ascetic limitations. As it’s a Sunday I’m craving a full roast, but eating an entire chicken doth not a healthy man make. This scaled down version is perfect for one, makes next to no washing up and takes half the time.
1 Poussin (£2-3)
1 Potato/Sweet Potato
Half an onion & one clove garlic (if desired)
Total cost: Under £5.
A Poussin is a young chicken which serves one person quite adequately. My housemate laments briefly for the bird, but unlike regular chicken these animals are almost never intensively reared and so the cooking can continue, free of moral strife. It also makes the perfect house meal, with no fighting over who gets the drumstick.
Preheat the oven to 200’c/Gas 7. Slice the carrot into batons and the potato into thick round circles. The onion, though seemingly a peculiar addition, becomes sweet and tender during roasting. A scattering of brown sugar or balsamic vinegar will assist this process, but is by no means necessary. Place the vegetables in a roasting tray and add the bird, splashing with a little oil or butter. A little salt and pepper works well. Roast for 45 minutes. If desired, the juices from the tray will make delicious gravy: simply add granules and hot water. For the enlightened vegetarians among us, a halved butternut squash or aubergine observes the same cooking time as the Poussin and works as a perfect replacement.
There are a couple of tricks in ensuring a fully cooked bird, the first of which is to insert a sharp knife through the breast and checking that the juices run clear. The second is a little rogue: insert the knife into the breast as previously, then place the blade (not the sharp side!) against your lips. Too hot to keep it there? It’s cooked.
Once eaten, I boil the bones to make a stock for tomorrow’s soup, allowing for some more inquiries by the housemate. They reckon the stock pot looks positively medieval, and I begin a discourse on the wonders of medieval food. They wander off. After a heavy weekend this is arguably the perfect meal: comforting, plentiful and healthy. ‘When are you making that for us?’ The housemate enquirers. Not so medieval now, I suppose.