Spice-Rubbed Poussins

Ma Cuisine, in a small square in Beaune, Burgundy, is one of the world's great neighborhood restaurants. It also has a remarkable Burgundy-centric wine list; chef-owner Fabienne Escoffier's menu is, of course, wine-friendly and delicious. She coats her poussins with a mix of spices, including a pinch of curry powder, and then roasts them until they're browned and juicy. If you can't find poussins, substitute Cornish hens or 2 small chickens and adjust the cooking time. More Poultry Recipes

Spice-Rubbed Poussins
Photo: © P-A Jorgensen
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
1 hr


  • 1 small shallot, minced

  • 2 teaspoons chopped thyme

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • Kosher salt

  • Four 1-pound poussins, backbones and wing tips removed

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce


  1. In a bowl, combine the shallot, thyme, paprika, curry, ginger, nutmeg, white pepper and cloves. Stir in the oil and season with a large pinch of salt. Set the poussins on a rimmed baking sheet, breast side up; press down to flatten the birds. Spread the spice paste all over, then refrigerate overnight.

  2. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a small saucepan, boil the white wine, garlic, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce over high heat until reduced by a third, about 5 minutes.

  3. Season the poussins with salt and roast for 10 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 450° and baste the poussins with the wine mixture. Roast for about 20 minutes longer, basting 3 more times with the wine mixture, until the birds are nicely browned and the inner thigh juices run clear. Let the poussins rest for 10 minutes, then serve.

Suggested Pairing

These birds go well with a light red or a rich white. Domaine de L'Arlot, in Burgundy, makes fabulous versions of both.

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