Spring chickens

Our Askew Road butcher Tom has been driving to Paris every week for over a year, to deliver beef to a butcher and restaurant and bring back French poultry and Limousin veal. While there are certainly some great British birds to be proud of – and we sell a couple of very fine examples – there’s a lot of specialism and variety to be had from French poultry, and we’re proud to be one of the few stockists in the country. 
From left to right (excuse the slightly blurry pic!) we‘ve got:
Canette de Barbarie
Neat little Barbarie ducklings which will serve 2-3 people. Full flavoured with a bit of game about them, comparatively lean but incredibly tender if given the right care and attention in the kitchen. Although they roast well, they’re absolutely superb pot-roasted; roughly chop some fennel and carrots, and add to a heavy pot with peeled shallots, garlic cloves and a couple of halved plums. Add a couple of bay leaves, cinnamon sticks and star anise, and season with salt and pepper. Add 100ml water, cover and roast at 160°C, basting every half an hour or so, for two hours or until the juices run clear. Serve with rice or potatoes and greens – and as you carve the duck (it should be amazingly tender), remove the skin and pop it in a hot oven for 10 minutes to make duck scratchings.
La pintade de Challans
Or heritage breed guinea fowl to us. They’re a slow-growing breed which reach maturity at about 13 weeks – more than twice what some poor chickens are given. They graze and peck at grain, grass and herbage, which you can really taste in the meat. Definitely recommend pot-roasting these as they’re quite lean; a few stock vegetables, aromatics and herbs, a large glass of wine (in the pot!) and a slow roast with the lid on. From the Challans region, from farmers who are certified to rear to the exacting standards above.
Poulet fermiere de Landes (top centre, red label)
“Chicken farms of Landes” – another region known for its fantastic approach to poultry rearing, with a Label Rouge stamp of of quality. These birds are a fairly leggy, corn fed variety, producing rich, tender and juicy meat. Again, reared outdoors and slow growing, these chickens have a bit more fat to them than you might expect and benefit from roasting a little lower and slower than you usually would.
Poulet noir du Gers
Another Label Rouge bird, easily recognised by their distinctive black legs and feet. The primary choice in many top French brasseries – a little leaner perhaps than the Landes chicken but still has bags of succulence and flavour. As with all Label Rouge birds, completely free range and matured to a minimum of 81 days (a good twenty days more than some free rangers over here), and hung guts in to make a good, tasty chook.
Just as the name suggests, a little chicken – ideal for one or two people. Roast, pot roast, or poach – a versatile and tasty little bird.
We do sell much more British chicken than French, and – as ever – are committed to the best in British farming. But these offer something a little different and a lot delicious – we hope you’ll give one a try over the weekend.