The menu at Bel Air’s Pairings Bistro changes throughout the year, evolving to highlight the best products from each season. This spring, Chef/owner Jon Kohler is serving small, succulent spring chickens, roasted and served with fresh peas and local mushrooms.
Roast Poussin with Wild Mushrooms and Spring Pea Ragout
6 poussins (spring chickens, preferably from KCC Natural Farms in Forest Hill)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves (plus additional for garnish)
1 gallon water
1 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup honey
2 Tablespoons whole black peppercorns
6 garlic cloves, smashed
Mushrooms and Pea Ragout:
3 Tablespoons minced shallots
1 pounds fresh assorted local mushrooms, cut into equal bite-size pieces
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 cups fresh chicken stock (low sodium broth can be used)
1-1/2 pound fresh spring peas (blanched in salted boiling water)
1. If brining, combine all brine ingredients in a large pot, placed over high heat. Bring to a boil, then immediately remove from heat.
2. Place brining liquid in the refrigerator to cool.
3. Once the brining liquid has cooled completely, place poussins in the liquid, making sure they are completely submerged. Brine the poussins for four hours.
Poussins & Vegetables:
4. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a large ovenproof skillet in the oven to warm as the oven preheats.
5. Remove poussins from brining liquid, and pat dry with paper towels. Lightly season the inside and outside of poussins with salt and pepper.
6. Remove the skillet from the oven, and place poussins in it. Roast for 20 minutes or until the poussins’ internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
7. While poussins are roasting, mince shallots and cut mushrooms into bite-size pieces.
8. Remove poussins from oven, and arrange on a serving platter, basting chicken with juices. Sprinkle minced thyme leaves over poussins.
9. Using an oven mitt or towel, heat the used ovenproof skillet on the stove, over medium high heat.
10. Add butter, olive oil, shallots and mushrooms to the skillet, being careful not to burn the bottom of the pan.
11. Toss frequently, allowing the mushrooms to weep their liquid. They should absorb the oil and butter in about a minute or two, then they will release the liquid back into the pan. As they continue to cook, the liquid will evaporate.
12. Once the liquid in the pan has evaporated, add the chicken stock to the pan and reduce by half.
13. Gently toss in the spring peas, and remove pan from heat.
14. Garnish poussins with mushroom and spring pea ragout and more fresh thyme, and perhaps a sprig of rosemary.