Intro: Chicken Ballotine
Chicken Ballotine is chicken in it's own skin. In a fancy french restaurant, you might be served a stuffed leg with a cleaned leg bone stocking out. This version is using most of the chicken to make 3 pieces, and is finished by being pan seared (though could be fried or roasted instead if preferred). The process takes 2 days to complete. Start w/ a well raised locally purchased chicken.
Step 1: Day One: Skinning & Portioning the Chicken
Starting from the back of the bird (along the spine, the part touching cutting board in the picture) cut and tear the skin away carefully to keep it in one whole piece. It's a little like undressing the bird. Cutting around the end of drumsticks is necessary, and the skin on the wings is more trouble to remove than it's worth. Scrape off any major fat left on the skin (I was lucky and didn't have much). Place in a large sheet or hotel pan, lightly season with salt, and leave overnight uncovered in the refrigerator. This step is necessary. It allows the skin to dehydrate some so that when cooked it doesn't shrink as much.
Remove the chicken breast meat, and the legs and thigh meat. Remove the bones from the thighs and legs. Use the bones, carcass, and wings for a stock or sauce of your choosing. Cut the chicken breasts into thin strips and refrigerate. Keep the dark meat out for the next step.
Step 2: Day One: Make the Chicken Forcemeat
Cut up some in-season aromatics. In this case (winter) apple, onion, carrot, and mushroom. Sweat the aromatics until soft and the onions turn translucent. Puree the thigh and leg chicken meat in a food processor, grinder, or buffalo chopper and then mix with the cooked aromatics. I added a teaspoon of salt, pepper, ground mustard seed, and toasted fennel seed for seasoning. Refrigerate.
Step 3: Day Two: Rolling the Ballotines
Portion the chicken skin into square shapes as best you can. This one made 3 pretty nice square shapes. However, it's a puzzle that changes with every bird. Lay the skin out on plastic wrap, and then layer the strips of breast meat on top of the skin. Finally, place some of the force meat mixture on top of the breast meat. Note how much skin I have left up top to roll up and make a nice seal. Using the plastic wrap to aid in rolling, make sure to keep the plastic out of the roll. Wrap the cylinder several times so that you believe it to be completely watertight.
Step 4: Day Two: Cooking
Bring a large pot of water to a full rolling boil. Take the ballotines, one at a time, and boil at high temperature for 1 minute. This is to set the shape of the roll.
From there, you can roast, saute, or fry for service. (to be finished soon...)