Chicken Under a Brick. Not in it. Definitely under it. Actually, it was 2 poussin, if we're being strictly accurate.
Using Dom's random recipe number generator for this month's Random Recipe challenge, book 26 turned out to be Nigellisima, page 90 was Chicken Under a Brick.
I was really pleased that Nigellisima was the chosen book - despite receiving it at Christmas, I have done little more than salivate my way through it. I wasn't going to use the random number generator to choose the page too, but it fell open far too conveniently at the olive oil chocolate cake which I have been considering for some time now, so in order to enter into the true spirit of the challenge, I went the whole hog, put the number of pages in the generator, and ended up with poussin.
I've never cooked poussin before. Little birds remind me of a time in France when many pigeons were served up on a platter in front of me. All those little bodies. My 17 yr old self was unable to contemplate it.
My nearly 41 yr old self was far happier with the idea, and a quick conversation with my butcher secured me 2 little bodies. Just right for my almost 41st birthday dinner.
The brick bit is quite interesting - you have to spatchcock the birds (easily done with some heavy duty kitchen scissors) and marinade them in lemon zest and juice, thyme, chilli, garlic and oil, and the brick (covered in foil) then holds them flat in the pan when you cook them, first on the hob and then in the oven. It also, apparently, gets the skin crispy. The recipe isn't on line anywhere but if you google Nigella's chicken under a brick, you'll get a good idea of what's involved!
I also got to use my rather smart neon pink tongs for removing the birds from the marinade, turning them half way through cooking, and for general poking about in the pan. It's the little things, you know...
To go with, I decided to have a Nigella blow out. We had a butternut squash in the veg box, and Express has a rather tasty affair involving blue cheese and pecans with roasted squash.
On the plate together, a tasty and colourful dinner:
The poussin were absolutely delicious. I followed the recipe to the letter, with no variations apart from not marinading it for as long as Nigella suggests (because I had overlooked that part of the recipe) but 2 hours was fine. The only thing I'd do differently next time is leave out the salt from the marinade, but otherwise, the meat was just beautifully tender, with loads of lovely juices. This would be perfect on a BBQ as well.
I have to say that had I not randomly chosen this recipe, I would have looked at it and mentally filed it as too involved - simply because of wrapping a brick in foil, it would seem. I did also have a residual concern about the strength of the shelves in my oven. Having now cooked it, I will definitely do it again - so what do I know? Matthew Fort reviewed Nigellissima for the Guardian's Word of Mouth blog last September commented that recipes in the book that 'tempt the most are the most straightforward' and he cites this one as an example of that. He's right.
I don't often stack up my blog challenge entries but as well as Dom's challenge, I can't resist adding this to the current Forever Nigella challenge with the theme of 'colourful', hosted by Elizabeth at A Girl in her Kitchen for Sarah at Maison Cupcake
and also to Karen's Herbs on Saturday, hosted by Karen herself this month, because both the poussin and the butternut squash recipes (which are admittedly Nigella's and not my own) have thyme in them, adding to the flavours.