Friday, November 2, 2012

Ballotine of Chicken, Polenta, and Mushroom Cream Sauce

I love Jacques Pepin. He's wonderful. After watching an inspiring episode of Essential Pepin, I decided to try his recipe for a Ballotine of Chicken. Here's what it is:

Basically it is a whole chicken whose bones I completely removed. After that I made a stuffing with spinach, garlic, olive oil, bread, and feta (I didn't have any gruyere at home). Then you stuff the bird, tie it with  a succession of half-hitch nots to keep it together, and roast it slowly. I'm not going to post Jacques Pepin's recipe, or show you how to bone out a chicken. I'm not an expert. Here is a link to the original:

If you click at the top where it says Episode: Fowl Play, you can watch the video where he shows how to prepare the chicken. I find watching is much more useful than reading when it comes to technique.

The point of my trying this was to learn how to take all of the bones out of a chicken. It is supposed to be one of the daunting kitchen tasks. I found it to be very simple. The only problem I found was that I wasn't always strong enough to rip the meat from the carcass. Oh well! I managed. Don't ever be afraid to try something in the kitchen. If it hadn't worked we would have still had delicious chicken for dinner. I just would have roasted pieces instead.

The verdict: my sweetie, Adam, and his friend loved it! They couldn't compliment the dinner enough. I, on the other hand, was not crazy about it. I don't really like eating chicken skin. I know! Someone who loves food as much as I do! It probably has to do with not eating it early in life; I never developed the taste. I think it is a beautiful presentation, but if I'm only cooking for myself I'll stick to stuffing chicken breasts. I can remove the skin more easily that way. 


Here is out little friend, boneless, tied up, and ready to roast!

My mom gave me a bag of polenta that she wasn't using, and I thought it would go great with the chicken. Polenta is basically Italian grits, for those of you who might not know. Polenta is a coarse corn meal. It is usually made with stock, herbs, butter, and sometimes cheese. It is really easy, just follow the liquid requirements for whatever brand you buy. Depending on the size of grain the liquid might be different. I made mine with homemade chicken stock, thyme, and butter. 

I realized at the last moment that I needed a sauce. I had some mushrooms in the fridge, so I cooked them with some sauteed onions, added some white wine, salt, pepper, and finished it off with some cream. It worked perfectly with the meal!

Oh! A final tip: don't throw away the bones. Save them for stock. I boned out the chicken the night before and used some of the stock on my polenta!

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