Wednesday 5 September
After our arduous travels, we decided to be home-birds today, so we went out to acquire a couple of home birds. We are still trying to get acclimated to London prices, and a wander through Sainsbury's poultry department ("Chickens cost WHAT?!") convinced us that, rather than pay through the beak for an ordinary bird, we should buy a couple of tiny fresh poussins on sale - after all, you can't get that kind of thing in the States, even for the $3.50 a pound they were going to cost. A further stroll through the Chapel Street Market brought us beautiful white mushrooms, so our meal was set.
Holt looked up poussin tips on the web, but before he could make notes on cooking times and levels, Elizabeth's wi-fi went on the blink (are the geeks perhaps on strike?). So since poussin is basically small chicken, we decided to put rosemary butter under its skin and a (small, halved) lemon up its butt, as we usually would. Then we had to guess what the gas-cooker was going to do, and as it was only regulated in Gas Marks, not in temperatures (there'll always be an England), Holt had to cross his fingers, start the oven at Gas Mark 7, then drop it to 5 after the little chickens browned. In the meantime, Barbara sliced mushrooms and gathered thyme from the garden. Once the chicken was out (about 45 minutes, with one interval to cut down between the legs and the breast and let the legs cook faster), we let it rest while we sautéed the mushrooms in oil and butter, with a final sprinkle of thyme and droozle of juices from the chicken pan.
So it turned out all right. The tiny chickens looked superb surrounded by mushrooms on the plate, and tasted even better, especially when their interior-baked lemon was removed and squeezed over their herby, crispy skin.