Griddled Poussin Chicken with Whole Hominy

The little (1-pound) chickens called poussin by the English and French make a perfect one-per-person bird, and when flattened out and cooked weighted on a griddle or in a heavy skillet, they are easy, no work, no worry, just crisp and delicious.

Whole hominy is the only canned vegetable or grain I ever use—both the yellow and the white. Do not even think of making hominy at home—even if “nixtamalization” (the process, as practiced first by the Aztec and Maya of Central America, involves soaking the ripe corn kernels and then cooking them with wood ashes and lime or lye, which removes the outer skin) is something you’ve always wanted to do. Buy the cans!

Before using, always empty the cans of hominy into a colander, rinse under cold water for two minutes, and drain.

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Ingredients

  • 4 1-pound chickens
  • 8 stems fresh sage, stemmed, stems and leaves saved, leaves finely chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 small can white whole hominy, drained, rinsed
  • 1 small can yellow whole hominy, drained, rinsed
  • ½ cup chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons ancho chili puree
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ bunch fresh chives, chopped into 1-inch lengths

Method

With a knife, scissors, or poultry shears, cut down each side of each chicken’s backbone to remove it. Place the cavity surface of the chickens on a cutting board and give them a couple of hits on the breast to flatten them completely. Tuck the wing tips under the wings. Then put the chickens in a shallow dish, and rub them all over with the sage stems and then with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Marinate for 2 hours covered in the refrigerator, turning them a couple of times.

Wipe the sage stems off the chickens, and season them. Pour the remaining olive oil into a hot heavy skillet or onto a griddle, and add the sage stems. Put the chickens skin side down on the stems, and put a weight (bricks on top of a cookie sheet, plate with can on top, etc.) of at least 5 pounds on top of the birds. Turn the heat to medium-low, cook for 15 minutes, turn the chickens over and cook for another 10 minutes, then again for 5 minutes on the other side to crisp the skin.

After the chickens have cooked for 15 minutes, heat the hominy with the chicken stock. Add the ancho chili puree, butter, and sage leaves, and stir until all the hominy is hot and coated with the chili sauce. Season.

Serve the chickens on a bed of the hominy and to garnish, sprinkle the chives over the chickens.

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