Poussin
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Poussin (NAMP # P1400) is a term that comes from the French word for “Chick.” Poussin means a very small immature Chicken, one that is too young to have developed feathers for flying or much heft. Poussins (also sometimes called Squab Chickens or Spring Chickens) are most often about 1 month old and 1.5 pounds (0.7 kg) in weight. Poussins are valued for their moist, delicate meat.

Availability

Poussins are available all year long.

Purchasing

Poussin are not often found at the local grocer in the United States, but they can be found at Specialty ButchersPoussins can be sold (and used) as whole-birds (NAMP # P1400), whole-birds with Giblets (NAMP # P1401), or whole-birds without giblets (NAMP # P1402), all of which will make a single-serving portion.

The Chicken should not have any defects, cuts or broken bones. It should not have any lingering feathers either. The skin color can range from cream white to corn yellow. Any color within this range indicates suitable quality. The differences in color are only a byproduct of the feeding practices of the poultry farmer. Different areas of the country have different skin color preferences, and the farmers usually adjust their feeding regimen to meet those preferences.

With a selection in mind, look it over. Are there bits of frost or ice formations on or around your intended purchase? Ice and frost can indicate a Frozen Chicken being passed off as a Fresh Chicken. While you are looking, check the “Sell-By Date,” which is 7 to 10 days after the Chicken was slaughtered. If the bird is out of date or even approaching its Sell By Date, look for another bird. Properly refrigerated Chicken will only last a few days past the Sell By Date once you get it home.

Even with a good date on the package, you may want to ask the butcher how long that particular Poussins have been sitting in the case. Avoid spending your money on something that has been sitting there a few days. The longer they are out in the store, the shorter time they will last in your refrigerator.  

Finally, complete your purchase decision with a “Smell Test.” Does your Chicken that has passed all the other tests smell neutral or does it smell off?  Oxygen and light can cause fats to go rancid. Chicken Fat is mostly composed of Unsaturated Fat, which breaks down more easily and quickly than Saturated Fat (the predominant fat in Beef and Pork). This means that Chicken keeps less well, even in the modern refrigerated distribution system. There isn’t likely to be a problem, but there could be, and your nose is a good first line of defense. While all bad Poultry won’t smell, all smelly poultry is bad.

With the perfect specimen selected, place the Poussin in its own plastic bag. Most stores provide them hanging from a wall near the Poultry case or you can probably find some in the produce section or grab some from the checkout stand on your way in.

We advise separately bagging the Chicken to try and prevent Cross-Contamination. Place the bagged Chicken by itself in a corner of your cart. It should not be sitting on top of, or over, anything else. You don’t want any raw chicken juices dripping onto and contaminating anything else, especially ready-to-eat foods.

Get the raw or frozen Poussin home as quickly as reasonably possible. In high heat (90°F or higher), it may only last an hour in a hot car before starting to spoil. If you live far from the store, consider investing in a cooler to protect your purchases.

Once home, it is best to use your raw meat as soon as possible. If you cannot use it immediately, you will want to store it safely out of The Food Danger Zone, either frozen or refrigerated.

This may seem like a lengthy purchasing process at first, but soon it will become second nature, and your family, and your budget, will thank you.

Storage

With your poultry purchase unpacked at home, if you are planning to store it, you should do a little preparation to ensure the best outcome for a longer chill or freeze.

If you plan to use your Chicken shortly and are going to refrigerate it, just place it in your refrigerator in the lowest of the meat drawers in the coldest part of your refrigerator. It should be in its original packaging, and optimally be inside a plastic bag. Placing it in a plastic bag will help prevent any raw juices from inadvertently dripping out and Cross-Contaminating other foods. If it won’t fit in your lowest meat drawer, place it as low as possible and don’t store any ready-to-eat or previously cooked food below it. If nothing is below it, escaping juices, if any, won’t spoil other food. If you want to learn more about safely handling Raw product visit Smart Kitchen’s Food Handling Exercises, and the Refrigerated Storage Resource Page.

Stored this way, you should be able to refrigerate Chicken safely (below 40°F) for 2 to 3 days before using it but since fresher is better, we recommend cooking it as soon as practicable.

If you plan to Hold your Chicken frozen the following will apply.

For Whole Chickens with Giblets, Remove the Giblets from the cavity of the bird to store them separately. Rinse them under cold running water, dry them with paper towels, and store them in a Freezer Bag, labeled with the contents and the date they were frozen. Using this method, the Giblets will last in the freezer for 3-4 months. If you plan to freeze your Giblets for an extended time, see the Smart Kitchen resource on Avoiding Freezer Burn.

Using this method, the frozen Poussin (held at or below 0°F) should last for 3-4 months but will begin to lose flavor after 2 months. Fresher is still better, even with frozen Chicken.

The best way to Thaw (the link has more on thawing) Chicken is in the refrigerator over a day or so. To thaw in a hurry, frozen Chicken can be removed from its packaging and thawed in an hour or so by placing it in a container with perforated sides (like a Colander) and continuously running cool water over it in the sink until it is thawed. If using this quick thawing method, keep an eye on the clock and be mindful of how long your product has been in The Food Danger Zone. 

Do Not Re-Freeze Previously Thawed Chicken. Also be aware that since you were thawing Raw you will need to Sanitize your sink and equipment accordingly.

For chicken leftovers or extra pieces, separate them into smaller portions for fast, safe cooling, then store them in a storage container or labeled zip-lock bag. Move them out of The Food Danger Zone as quickly as possible to the freezer or refrigerator. Cooked Chicken or Chicken Parts can be held refrigerated up to 4 days.

Culinary Uses

The French (and French-trained chefs) swear by Poussin because they have lean, tender, subtly-flavored meat. Allow one Poussin per person. Finally, a Poussin is not the same thing as a Pullet, which is a female chicken that never developed as an Egg layer.

Portion Size

Allow 8-10 oz of Butchered Poussin per person.

Pairings

Dried Herbs & Spices - AniseAllspiceCardamomCayenne PepperCelery SeedsClovesCorianderCuminCurrantsCurry LeavesCurry PowderMustard SeedsNutmegPaprikaRed Pepper FlakesSaffronSaltSea SaltKosher SaltSesame SeedsStar AniseWhite SugarBrown SugarBlack PepperWhite PepperPink PepperTurmericChili PowderBay LeafCinnamonTarragonParsleyOreganoBasilGarlic PowderRosemaryDillMintSavory

Fresh Herbs OreganoChivesParsleyCilantroBasilSageTarragonMarjoramThymeRosemaryChervilDillCorianderMintSavory

Dairy MilkButtermilkButterYogurtCrème FraicheSour Cream

Wet Ingredients Beer, Coconut MilkOilsCreamFish SauceSoy Sauce, Grand Marnier, Sherry, Stocks, Wine, Vermouth, Vinegars, Whisky, Brandy, Cider

Thick Ingredients Hoisin Sauce, Honey, Maple Syrup, MayonnaiseMolassesMustardsTomato Paste

Vegetables Artichokes, Bell Peppers, CapersCarrotsCauliflowerCeleryCelery Root, Chile Peppers, GarlicOnionsGingerKaleLemongrass, Mushrooms, PotatoesSpinachTomatoes, Turnips, Turnip Greens, Chard, DaikonEndiveEscaroleParsnipsLeeks

Fruits Apples, OlivesAvocados, Bananas, Figs, Raisins, Cranberries, Dates, Guava, Grapefruits, Grapes, LimesLemons, Oranges, PeachesPomegranates, Pears, Apricots

Nuts AlmondsCashewsHazelnutsWalnutsPeanutsPine Nuts

Meats Bacon, Ham, ProsciuttoPancetta, Sausages, Turkey

Gluten Free

Yes

Low Fat

Yes

Low Calorie

Yes