For this recipe I’ve used poussins, which are a real joy. They’re really good fun to eat, as each person gets one bird – a ready-made portion! The meat is also lovely and sweet.
First of all you need to spatchcock the poussins. It’s best to ask your butcher to do this, but you can do it yourself if you need to.
Basically you’re removing a bit of carcass and flattening out the birds, almost like open books, so that they all touch the barbecue at the same time and cook evenly and more quickly.
Take your largest chopping knife and position it right inside each bird next to its backbone – the blade should be over the middle of the parson’s nose - I tend to use a rolling pin to then thump the back of the knife until it cuts all the way through the bird. Open out the bird on to a board, then press down on the breasts until you hear the breastbone crack.
With a sharp knife, slash the meat all over the thighs and legs to help them cook quicker and take on more flavour.
In a pestle and mortar, bash up your cinnamon sticks then add your spices, thyme leaves and the zest and the juice of 3 of your limes. Add a small lug of olive oil to get the flavour going and add 1 pinch of sea salt for each bird. Mix well. Rub this marinade onto your poussins. Pop them in sandwich bags and put them in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour. You can leave them in there overnight if you want to.
Remove your birds from the fridge 1 hour before cooking, but keep them out of the sun. When ready to cook, drop the poussins onto the hottest part of your barbie. Give them a couple of minutes on each side and make sure you move them any time that flames come up - you want them to be golden, not black! Once you’ve got a nice colour, move them to the cooler part of your barbie to finish cooking – they’ll need about 20 minutes. You can tell they’re cooked through when you can easily pull the thigh meat away from the bone.
Stir the juice and zest of your remaining lime and the finely chopped mint through the yoghurt. Serve the poussins with a good dollop of minty yoghurt, sprinkled with the chilli and baby mint leaves. Delicious.