DAVID WOODS: Boxing clever with poussin and puy lentils

Thyme and garlic poussin with puy lentils
Thyme and garlic poussin with puy lentils

Enjoy a winning dish from our mystery box challenge, says David Woods, executive head chef of the Sofitel London Gatwick Hotel, based at the airport’s north terminal.

I regularly keep my team of junior chefs on their toes to help them expand their skills.

David Woods

David Woods

So, recently I set them a mystery box challenge – 10 chefs were faced with boxes of secret ingredients and an hour and 15 minutes to create an à la carte style dish.

It’s amazing how the same box of ingredients can produce 10 completely different dishes but the winner was my chef de partie, Tony Kittou. He has been with the Sofitel kitchen brigade for three years and, like all my team, has the right attitude that as a chef you are always learning.

He produced a dish of thyme and garlic poussin on a bed of vegetable lentils, served with grilled shallots, grilled oyster mushrooms, a butternut puree and confit tomatoes. The flavours were amazing and he also got the thumbs up from the judges in terms of eye-appeal and texture.

To recreate this at home, you can simply serve the poussin with the lentils and a green salad, although I recommend trying the confit of tomatoes for a delicious hit of flavour. The best news is you won’t be timed and judged at the end – just enjoy eating it.

To book a table at La Brasserie, Sofitel’s 2 AA rosette restaurant, call 01293 567070 (select 3 for dining) or email SLG@sofitelgatwick.com.

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Thyme and garlic poussin with puy lentils and confit of tomato

1 Poussin

1 clove of garlic, crushed

3 sprigs of thyme – finely chopped

1 tab vegetable oil

For the lentils:

1 tab vegetable oil

150g puy lentils

2 sticks of celery, finely chopped

1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

Half an onion, peeled and finely diced

300ml vegetable stock

For the confit of tomatoes:

1 tab of vegetable oil

1 tab of olive oil

1 salad tomato

1tsp sugar

Salt and pepper


Prepare the confit of tomato by mixing the oils, sugar and salt and pepper in a small oven-proof dish. Cut the tomato into wedges and lay cut side down in the oil. Bake in a preheated oven, 170oC, for 5 mins. Leave to cool in the oil.

For the lentils, gently sweat the celery, carrot and onion in the vegetable oil in a small saucepan. When soft, add the lentils. Cook for one minute then add the hot stock. Simmer for 15 minutes until lentils are soft but still have a slight ‘bite’. Season with salt and pepper.

Joint the poussin into breasts and thighs (or ask your butcher to do this for you) Rub the breast and thighs with the thyme and garlic.

Sprinkle the thighs with salt and pepper and fry in the vegetable oil, skin side down, until golden. Finish off in preheated oven, 180oc, for about 6-7 minutes. When the thighs go in the oven, put the breast in same frying pan, skin side down and pan fry for about 6-7 minutes, turning over half way through. To serve, place the warm lentils on a plate and top with a breast and thigh, and wedges of confit tomato.

Chef’s Tip

Instead of poussin you can use boneless chicken breasts and thighs. Allow extra time for cooking – for the thighs, pan fry until golden and finish off in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until core temperature reaches 76oC degrees. Pan fry the chicken breast for 15 mins (or until core temp is 76oC degrees) turning over half way through.

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