Sunday, April 14, 2013

April 2013 Daring Cooks' Challenge: Chicken Ballotine

For the April Daring Cooks Challenge, Lisa from Parsley, Sage and Sweet has challenged us to debone a whole chicken, using this video by Jacques Pepin as our guide; then stuff it, tie it and roast it, to create a Chicken Ballotine.

Prior to this challenge, I had never heard of Chicken Ballotine, and I had no idea there were recipes that involved a deboned chicken.  In fact, I had never heard of deboning a chicken.  Learning that butchers charge $40.00 to $80.00 to debone a chicken pretty much blew me away.  In the end, it was not really difficult.  And to think, without this challenge, I never would have experienced this incredibly delicious meal!

I did find the process of deboning the chicken time consuming.  However, that was due to my complete and utter ignorance.  And, I must thank my boys for taking turns pausing and rewinding Jacque Pepin's video again and again and again, as I muttered, "What did he just do?  How was he holding the bird? Oh!  That's all I had to do?!"  It must have been a comical sight.  After work, my husband found me in the kitchen and burst into laughter at the expression on my face as I set to my task.

What is Chicken Ballotine?  A chicken that is boned, stuffed, and rolled in a bundle.  And it is delicious!  (My pickiest eater did not care for it, but even he agreed he should have and that his taste buds must be defective!)

The ingredients for this meal cost me about $31.00.  However, it could have been closer to $13.  I chose a $12 bottle of Chianti for the sauce (chicken broth would have saved at least $9.)  The block of Appenzeller Cheese cost nearly $10 (Mozzarella would have cut my cost by at least $6.  I very rarely by Appenzeller, so I was happy to have an excuse to splurge!)  And, had I made a trip to Costco, I could almost purchase 2 chickens for the $8+ this one cost me at the grocery store.) 

Key things to keep in mind:
1. The importance of a CLEAN workspace - before, during, and after.  You will want to be sure everything is sanitized, including the towels, counter tops, cutting boards and knives when you are done.
2. Be careful removing the wishbone.  It will be the first bone you remove and it can break easily and puncture your finger.  Use a towel to grab onto it to cut/pull it out, if necessary.  (This part made me nervous, as I am a klutz.  I was absolutely thrilled I managed to remove the bone whole!  It's the little things in life...)
3. Save the carcass (and the wings) to make stock.  Seal it in a freezer bag if you will not be making stock immediately.  It will keep up to one year.  (My husband uses our chicken carcasses to make THE best chicken noodle soup.)

I prepared the stuffing first (so it had plenty of time to cool), removed the bones from the bird, and made the sauce while the Chicken Ballotine was cooking. 

If you do not have wonderful helpers to stop and rewind the tutorial video for you, you can wash your hands well and do it yourself, or you could wrap a clean towel around your hand each time and attempt to control your mouse with the clean towel.

Chicken Ballotine
with Spinach, Cheese and Bread Stuffing 
This challege recipe was taken from Essential Pepin - KQED.orgI encourage you to visit this site for the Red Rice Stuffing option, for more details, and for a recipe to make chicken stock with your carcass.

Preparation Time: will vary
Deboning the chicken: 15 minutes to 1.5 hours - it gets faster with experience!
Stuffing: 5-10 minutes, plus cooling time
Sauce (optional): 5-10 minutes
Roasting time: 1 hour

Equipment required:
● A very sharp knife to cut off the wings (recommended - a chef’s knife)
● A very sharp knife that fits your hand comfortably, to debone the chicken. (recommended - a boning or paring knife)
● Clean, sterile cutting board
● Lots of kitchen towels
● Cotton kitchen twine
● Roasting pan

Servings: 4-6

1 chicken (about 3-3/4 pounds) (1-3/4 kg), boned (click here for video tutorial - and be careful!)

1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) (1¼ gm) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) (½ gm) freshly ground black pepper
Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing (see recipe below)
1/3 cup (80 ml) water
1/2 cup (120 ml) dry red wine (you can substitute chicken or vegetable stock or fruit juice, such as grape)
1 celery stalk (2 oz) (60 gm), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch (1¼ cm) dice (1/2 cup) (120 ml)
1 small onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 carrot (2 oz) (60 gm), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch (1¼ cm) dice (1/3 cup) (80 ml)
1/2 teaspoon (2½ ml) potato starch OR cornstarch (4 gm), dissolved in 1 tablespoon (15 ml) water
1 tablespoon (15 ml) dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon (15 ml) (4 gm) chopped fresh parsley

1. Preheat the oven to moderately hot 400°F/200°C/gas mark 6.
2. Lay the chicken skin side down on the work surface and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Spread the spinach mixture evenly over the chicken - stuffing the legs too. Sprinkle the cheese and bread cubes on top of the spinach. Roll the chicken up, tie it with kitchen string, and place it in a roasting pan. (Directions for tying the string are on the deboning video.)
3. Roast the ballotine for about 1 hour or until the temperature is 160-165 degrees F in the center of the ballotine. 

4. Make sauce while ballotine is roasting.  See directions below.

1. Prior to stuffing the ballotine, I covered the deboned chicken with plastic wrap and pounded it with a mallet to make it easier to stuff & roll.
2. I was only able to find smoked Gruyère.  After consulting with a helpful gentleman at the deli counter, I substitued Appenzeller Swiss Cheese.
3. After tying the ballotine, I drizzled a bit of olive oil onto the bird and rubbed it over the skin to help it brown.  

Spinach, Cheese, and Bread Stuffing
1 tablespoon (15 ml) olive oil
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) finely chopped garlic
5 ounces (140 gm) baby spinach leaves
1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) (1½ gm) salt
1/4 teaspoon (1¼ ml) (½ gm) freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (240 ml) grated Gruyère or mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces/115 gm) (I used Appenzeller)
1 1/2 cups cubed (1/2-inch) (1¼ cm) bread

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan or skillet. Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute to soften the garlic and wilt the spinach.
2. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. 

For the sauce:
1. Skim off and discard most of the fat from the drippings in the pan. Add the water and wine to the drippings to deglaze the pan, and heat over medium heat, stirring to loosen and melt the solidified juices.
2. Strain the juices into a saucepan. Add the celery, onion, and carrot and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and boil gently for 5 minutes. Stir in the dissolved potato starch and soy sauce and bring the mixture back to a boil, stirring, to thicken it. Remove from the heat.
3. Transfer the ballotine to a cutting board and remove the string. Cut half of it into 4 or 5 slices, each about 1 inch thick. Return the uncut half of the ballotine to the serving platter and arrange the cut slices in front of it. Pour the sauce over and around the ballotine, garnish with the parsley, and serve. Cut additional slices of ballotine as needed at the table.

Storage & Freezing Instructions/Tips: Wrap up any leftovers tightly and store in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. If not using bones, scraps and carcass from chicken for a stock or any other preparations, immediately, seal tightly in a freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 year.
boned, pounded and sprinkled with salt and pepper

layered with spinach mixture, cheese, and bread
stuffed, rolled and tied
cooked and ready to carve
sliced - oozing delicious cheesy stuffing

Hmmm... I just realized my photos do not include the sauce, which my husband thought was amazing.  Three-fourths of my family declared this a make again meal.  In fact, we may be serving it to guests next weekend, it was that good!  Apparently, there are hundreds of stuffing combinations.  Oh, the yummy possibilities!

Again, I would like to thank  Lisa from Parsley, Sage and Sweet for this fantastic challenge.  

Thank you for stopping by!


Lisa said...

I'm still in awe of the beautiful color you got on your ballotine, which turned out absolutely perfect and is more than worthy of that $31.00 bottle of Chianti (fava beans on the side? LOL) I'm so pleased you took part in my challenge! Thank you!

Renee said...

Thank you, Lisa! It was a fun challenge. Thank you for the wonderful introduction to Chicken Ballotine!