Bored with the typical roast chicken? Here’s something special. This easy pan roasted young chicken (a.k.a. poussin) is seared in a cast iron skillet, then oven roasted with a fruity homemade cherry BBQ sauce. This easy recipe uses two whole spatchcocked poussins (each about 12-16 ounces), but you can substitute chicken thighs, legs or even a regular sized spatchcock chicken if you can’t get these young specialty poussins.
What’s a poussin?
Have you ever heard of poussin? Literally, “young chicken”, coquelet or spring chicken, the term, poussin refers to a bird that’s 28 days old at slaughter. Each little coquelet weighs around a pound and one chicken is considered a serving.
Because they’re so young, these tiny fowl are extremely tender and flavorful. I used them here with a simple, homemade cherry BBQ sauce as a finishing lacquer or glaze.
Because each person gets their own little chicken, the presentation is beautiful and enticing, making this easy recipe the perfect thing for a special date night or anniversary dinner.
Ingredients for Cherry BBQ Sauce
- Sweet Onion
- Jalapeno Pepper
- Tomato Paste
- Maple Syrup
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Soy Sauce
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Chili Powder
- Cherry Jam
Cherry BBQ sauce? Oh yes!
This lip-smacking sauce hits every part of your tongue. It’s a little sweet and very cherry forward. It has a spicy kick and tangy finish.
If you don’t feel like pureeing the BBQ sauce in the food processor, you can serve it as a chunky chutney to go with pork, poultry and game.
I’ve made a small batch here — just enough for one or maybe two meals, but you can certainly double it.
What does the bbq sauce taste like?
This bbq sauce is complex and layered with great spice and distinctive cherry flavor. It creates a tongue tingling sensation that’s irresistible, whatever you put it on.
If you have leftover cherry BBQ sauce, you can refrigerate it in a sealed container for up to two weeks.
Where to find young chickens
Poussins aren’t an everyday ingredient, so I understand that you probably won’t be able to pick them up at your local market. However, ask your butcher about getting them. They’ve got the contacts.
I ordered mine from D’Artagnan, an online specialty meat purveyor for about $12 apiece. (I know that seems high given the price of an adult chicken, but again, this was for a special dinner).
You can order them whole or spatchcocked (backbone removed). I got the spatchcocked poussins for faster cooking and easier eating.
How to cook spatchcock poussins
- Preheat the oven to 500°.
- Set a large cast iron skillet on the stovetop and heat over medium high heat. (My cast iron skillet is 12″ in diameter and there was plenty of room for both poussins).
- Season the young chickens with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Drizzle some olive oil into the hot pan and place the poussins, skin side down in the skillet.
- Sear the little chickens for 3-4 minutes (without touching or agitating them), then use a pair of tongs to carefully flip the birds.
- Sear the back side of the birds for an additional 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer the hot cast iron pan to the preheated oven for 3 minutes.
- Brush the poussins with cherry BBQ sauce and continue roasting for an additional 3-4 minutes until they’re done.
Poussins cook quickly
Because the poussins are so small, they cook very quickly on the stovetop and in the oven, so this simple date night dinner won’t require hours of slaving in the kitchen. Instead, pour a glass of wine and marvel at how fast dinner is ready.
How do they taste?
Poussins taste like, well… chicken. They’re very tender and their diminutive size makes a statement on the plate. With each little poussin being a portion on its own, the presentation is impressive, even elegant.
These cast iron skillet seared poussins with the fruity cherry BBQ sauce are absolutely heavenly. The meat is mild and juicy. The skin is lightly crisped and lacquered with the lip smacking glaze.
The little legs and wings are perfect for nibbling and the breast meat is incredibly moist and tender.
Want to try this with regular chicken pieces?
You can also make this with chicken thighs, drumsticks or skin-on chicken breasts. They may take a little longer to cook (especially breasts) because they’re bigger than the poussins, but the method remains the same.
- Preheat the cast iron skillet on the stovetop as described for the poussins.
- Sear the chicken in the cast iron pan, flipping them with tongs after 4-5 minutes.
- Sear the opposite side for 3-4 minutes.
- Transfer to the hot oven. Cook for 5-7 minutes, then brush with BBQ sauce and continue to roast for an additional 5-7 minutes.
- You can test for doneness by using an Instant Read Thermometer and verifying the internal temperature (without touching the bone) reaches 185° F or 74° C.
Want to try this with a regular 3-4 pound chicken? It’s easy.
For a regular sized spatchcock chicken
- Remove the backbone from the chicken so it lays flat. Here’s a video to show you how.
- Place a large cast iron skillet (10-12″ diameter) in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°.
- Season the fowl with salt and pepper.
- When the oven is hot, place the chicken, breast side down into the pan and return it to the oven to cook for 25 minutes.
- Use a pair of tongs to flip the chicken and cook for an additional 15 minutes.
- Brush the bird with cherry BBQ sauce and return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until it reaches 185° F/ 74° C.
Uses for cherry BBQ sauce
Let’s talk about the cherry BBQ sauce… You want this. In fact, you’ll want this on a lot of things.
- On grilled poultry.
- Slathered on pork tenderloin.
- Served with game like quail, venison, elk.
- To top burgers (especially turkey burgers and pork burgers.
- Smeared on a turkey sandwich in lieu of cranberry sauce.
To serve with cherry BBQ glazed poussins:
- Southern Black Eyed Pea Salad
- Crunchy Brussel Apple Fennel Slaw
- Pickled Cherry Cold Rice Salad
- Garlic Herb Flageolets
More poultry recipes you might like:
- Baked Stuffed Chicken Breasts
- Sour Orange Mojo Butterflied Chicken
- Italian Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Chicken
- Grilled Chicken Thighs with Herb Rub
Pan Roasted Young Chicken with Cherry BBQ Sauce
- cast iron skillet
- mini food processor
FOR CHERRY BBQ SAUCE:
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1/2 cup chopped sweet onion
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup strong coffee
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2 cup cherry jam or preserves
- 2 pounds poussin (1 pound each)
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup Cherry BBQ Sauce for glazing, plus extra for serving (recipe above).
- MAKE THE CHERRY BBQ SAUCE:
- In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally until the onions become soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic and jalapeno until fragrant, about 30 seconds to a minute.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly so it doesn't burn. You want the tomato paste to completely coat the onions and start to take on a deeper red color.
- Add the coffee, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and chili powder. Bring to a boil, stirring regularly and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the sauce is quite fragrant and bubbly and has thickened and reduced. (When you drag a spoon across the bottom of the pan, the empty space shouldn't immediately fill with liquid.)
- Stir in the cherry jam and reduce heat to a simmer (medium low) for 3-4 minutes for the flavors to marry.
- Transfer the cherry mixture to a mini food processor or blender and process on high until smooth. Pour the sauce into a small bowl or airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
FOR THE POUSSIN:
- Preheat the oven to 500°.
- Set a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat and let it warm up.
- While the skillet heats, season the poussin on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Add the olive oil to the pan and swirl it around to coat. Immediately place the poussins, skin side down into the hot pan. Sear for 3-4 minutes to sear the skin.
- Use a pair of tongs to flip the poussins over onto their back and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
- Transfer the poussins to the hot oven and cook for 3 more minutes.
- Liberally brush the young chickens with the cherry BBQ Sauce and continue to cook for 3-5 more minutes, until it reaches 145° on an Instant Read thermometer and has a nice lacquered glaze.
- Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter or individual plates to serve.