Chicken Ballotine

ballotine [ˈbalətiːn]: A ballotine is a piece of meat, fish, or poultry that has been deboned, stuffed and then rolled and tied into a bundle. (Wikipedia)

I don’t know what made me try and make a whole chicken ballotine to roast but I’m glad I did as it turned out really moist and flavorful. I made the point to brine the whole chicken for 5 hours before deboning it. I don’t know if I’ll get used to deboning raw chicken, even with disposable gloves, but it is required for this technique. I’m getting pretty good at deboning chicken but there is definitely room for improvement as I have troubles with the carcass around the neck and would like to be quicker at it. I would advise breaking the leg bone so there is still the bone that sticks out as it makes tying the legs easier. If you’re thinking about deboning a chicken for the first time, I highly recommend watching Jacque Pepin do so in this video as he not only shows you how to debone a chicken but prep the chicken. I basically followed everything he did after I brined the chicken.

While the chicken was brining, I worked on making the stuffing to allow it to cool completely before stuffing it in the chicken. You want to be sure not to use warm stuffing as that can cultivate bacteria leading to food poisoning. Once I completed deboning the chicken and letting it air dry a bit, I spread the stuffing over the chicken, being sure to stuff the leg pockets with it. I folded the chicken back up, overlapping the sides a bit and trussed it up. Be sure to use either kitchen twine or 100% pure cotton string that has no chemicals added (string with chemicals can negatively affect the taste of your meat once done cooking). I used to be amazed at how butchers would tie up meat but it’s a really simple process consisting of tying the legs together with the knot in the center and then looping the string and pulling it under the chicken repeatedly until you reach the end. You then turn the chicken over and thread the twine over and under the horizontal twine created in the first step.  If you don’t have enough skin to cover the opening and are worried about your stuffing falling out, you can ball up some aluminium foil to stuff the hole with. Again the video by Jacque Pepin does a good job of explaining how to do so. I then roasted the chicken allowing it to sit for approx. 15 minutes before carving and plated it with mashed sweet potato and roasted asparagus with balsamic dressing.

chicken ballotine

Trussed up chicken

Chicken Ballotine

1 whole chicken
Stuffing
Kitchen twine or plain cotton string

Stuffing

Olive oil
Butter
White onion
White mushroom, roughly chopped
Shiitake mushroom, roughly chopped
Spinach
Garlic

Heat the butter in a frying pan and add both mushrooms and onion, stirring occasionally. Once softened, remove the mushrooms to a plate for use later.  In the same pan, heat some olive oil and add the garlic, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t burn, approx. 2-3 mins.  Then add the spinach and saute until it wilts.  Add the mushroom and onion mixture to the spinach and mix until it is well blended.  Place stuffing in the refrigerator to cool.

When ready to roast the chicken, spread stuffing evenly over the chicken, ensuring the legs are stuffed. Fold the chicken back to its original shape and truss accordingly. I roasted the chicken for 20 minutes at 430 and then lowered the temperature to 350 for approx. 40 minutes.  Note we don’t eat the skin so I didn’t bother basting it but feel free to periodically baste the chicken with olive oil when its roasting at 350. The chicken is fully cooked with the juices run clear and can be made into gravy if so desired.  Let the chicken rest for approx. 15-20 minutes before carving. Pair with mashed potato or yam and root vegetables.