KITCHENALIA

Poultry Shears
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The Independent Culture
0WILD rabbits, with their subtle, gamey flavour, cost less than pounds 2 each in Honiton, where I live. I buy them in pairs to make rabbit and thyme pie, with clotted cream spooned under the crust just before serving, or I marinate the meat in red wine then braise it slowly with bacon and fennel.

Both recipes call for each rabbit to be cut into six pieces. My butcher does this quickly with a cleaver. But when I tried the same operation at home I botched the job, producing ragged joints peppered with needle- sharp shards of bone. Until I bought a pair of poultry shears - which cut through meat and fish bones in a trice.

The best poultry shears are stainless steel with slim, curved blades joined by a coil spring. I find they are usually more comfortable to use when wearing gloves. Since, at around pounds 20, high-quality shears are not cheap, it's worth considering whether you'd use them enough to warrant the investment. But you can save money by jointing a chicken at home rather than buying it already cut in pieces.

Chill the chicken for some hours to firm the meat, then place on a chopping board. Use a sharp knife to cut through the skin that joins the leg and body. Bend the leg outwards to snap the joint and free it with the shears. Remove the other leg in the same way. Now, using a boning knife, start at the top of the breast bone and carefully cut the breast meat from each side of the carcass, following the shape of the rib cage, and leaving the wishbone and wings attached to the carcass. Repeat with the second breast.

To spatchcock a bird, use poultry shears to cut through the back bone. Open out the carcass and, with the skin side uppermost, use the heel of your hand to flatten the bird so that it resembles a toad - a la crapaudine, in French.

Shears should be cleaned after use and kept in a dry place, out of the reach of children.

SPATCHCOCK POUSSINS WITH PATE DE FOIE GRAS

Serves 2

2 poussins

salt, freshly milled pepper

55g/2oz pate de foie gras

2 juniper berries, crushed

1 teaspoon brandy, marc or lemon juice

Preheat a grill that's set to high heat. Use poultry shears to cut through the backbone of each poussin and open the birds out flat. Season all over with salt and pepper. Place skin side down on the oiled grid of a grilling or roasting pan and grill at high heat for 10 minutes. Turn over the poussins and grill for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile blend the pate de foie gras with the juniper berries and brandy, marc or lemon juice. When the poussins are almost cooked and only clear juice runs from the leg, spread the pate mixture over the skin side of each bird. Grill for a further five to seven minutes.

Serve straight away with a green salad.

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