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.
Chicken Ballotine is a whole deboned chicken, stuffed, rolled, trussed and cooked - either roasted or grilled.
Did you read that first part?
A whole chicken. Deboned.
Yeah, take a whole chicken, remove all the bones, and leave the meat and skin in tact.
Now watch that video and see how easy Jacques Pepin makes it look. He says that it should take about a minute to completed debone a chicken. And he can probably do it blindfolded with one hand tied behind his back. Seriously impressive.
I am not Jacques Pepin.
Here's how it went for me.
Watch the video about a dozen times. Finally get the courage to try. Sterilize counter and get everything set up.
Now start. Step one: remove the wishbone.
Success! Broke the wishbone in the process, but got it out without any fuss or injury. To me. I'm sure it would have hurt the chicken...
Then comes the hard part - disjointing the wings, pulling out the wing bones and removing the carcass.
Okay... umm... yeah.
This was not easy. Took way more than a minute just to do the wings, so I knew I was way behind Jacques already. I don't know what was up with my chicken, but it did not want to part with its bones. It must have had really strong ligaments. Or tendons. Or something.
Let's just say there was a lot of pulling.
Carcass removed! All that's left there are the leg bones.
And the way to take those out?
Scrape the meat off. Sounds weird, but it was actually the smoothest part of the process for me.
All bones removed (and it only took me 25 minutes... not too bad for a first try...), it was time to stuff. The possibilities are endless for stuffings here. Vegetables, other meats, grains - anything that you want. I asked daddy what his thoughts were for stuffing and he said... stuffing! So we made a classic bread-based stuffing to which I added sauteed onion and sweet peppers (of assorted colors).
Once the stuffing is spread onto the chicken (and pushed down into the bone-free drumsticks!), the whole thing has to be rolled up and trussed. That's right, tied up. Using a classic half-hitch technique.
And this is where I almost started to cry.
Every time I slipped the string under the rolled chicken, more and more stuffing slipped out.
But somehow, after a few deep breaths and a few more minutes, I had it.
I then brushed the skin with a tablespoon of melted butter, sprinkled on a few spices, and popped my work of art... I mean... Ballotine into the oven.
And an hour later, this is what greeted me as I opened the oven.
Oh. My. Gosh.
I have never achieved that beautiful color on a roasted chicken before.
And then I cut it.
Umm... can you say YUM?
I kid you not, this was delicious. More delicious than I thought it would be. In fact... more delicious than I wanted it to be.
Why? Because it was so good that I want to do it again. Even with the stress. And the strong ligamented chicken. And the almost crying.
It was just. that. good.
Lisa, I can't thank you enough for this challenge. I wouldn't have even attempted it for anyone else. Your support during this challenge (sorry for all the texts!) was invaluable and I couldn't have done it without you.
I don't have a recipe to share with this one, since the main focus here was the process of deboning and trussing the chicken. (Seriously - I winged the stuffing than roasted it for an hour at 400 degrees... that's as close to a recipe as I have...) To see the challenge as it was presented, and the associated suggested recipes, check it out here.
And to see the truly amazing Ballotines created by the other truly Daring Cooks this month, check them out here.
And I dare you to try this. It's so worth it.