My mentor at culinary school is named Matthew Bennett. He was a Garde Manger chef before he became an instructor, and as you can read up on in my Garde Manger blog post found here, this is a subject that I really latched on to. I was fortunate enough to take the Garde manger class with Chef Bennett, where he was allowed to teach the class according to his curriculum, which gave an experience that no other teacher could provide. One of the keys in this class was the chicken ballatine. It is a way to take leftovers, such as leftover pork scraps and a chicken, and turn them into a finger food that will blow almost anybody away. I made some last week for a food giveaway at a gym, and figured I would share the experience with you. I then took the leftovers to my Toastmasters anniversary party so they wouldn’t go to waste, and were enjoyed there as well. One of my fellow toastmasters asked me for the recipe…and it was then that I realized that there really ISN’T a recipe for this, it is all about the technique. I’ll do my best to help you out here, but there is research that you will need to do on your own in order to be able to make this.
First, I start off by making a pork forcemeat. I went searching around the Internet for how to make a forcemeat, and the best thing that I could find was here: how to make forcemeat? which as you can see, I don’t totally approve of. In short, a forcemeat is an emulsion of meat, fat and water, done by grinding and working meat with ice cold water, so as not to cause the fat to render out of the meat. I should do a video of this in the future..but that is for later. For now, let’s just say that I made a pork sausage, out of double-ground pork, water, and some apple pie spice for flavoring. Below is a picture of the forcemeat in the bowl where it cooled:
As you can see, I also added some pistachios and dried cranberries to the pork forcemeat. The definition of a forcemeat as I learned from my mentor, is that it is a ground meat that behaves like whole muscle. This means that the texture no longer resembles that of ground pork, which should be fairly obvious by the texture of the meat in this picture. The big upside to this, that you will see later, is that when the pork is rolled inside a de-boned chicken the texture of the ground meat is indistinguishable from that of the whole chicken…more on that later. Finally on this, by adding in the pistachios and cranberries, you get a VERY interesting slice of meat, that intrigues the senses…always a plus 🙂
As mentioned, this pork is going to be rolled inside a fully de-boned whole chicken. I couldn’t possibly go through the steps necessary to make that happen, so I will suggest that if you are interested in replicating this recipe, that you find a video online of how to do a boneless fabrication of a chicken…or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will let you know when I do a class on this in the future, as it is something that is on my agenda. Also, if you can find a butcher that will do a boneless fabrication of a whole fryer chicken, have them do that as well. This was one of the most time and skill intensive things that I learned in school, so needless to say, I am not able to describe it to you in a blog post 🙂 The best I CAN do however, is to show you the forcemeat inside of the de-boned chicken. I used a whole fryer chicken, pulled out all the bones, and cut it in half down the midle to make 2 ballatines per chicken. here they are, stuffed with the pork forcemeat, right before they are rolled up:
Next, I am going to use some butcher’s twine to tie the ballatines off. This will allow them to hold their nice round shape after coming through the oven…because the protein in the meat de-natures and holds its form, once I remove the twine, they will have a great shape and be ready for me to slice. Here are some ballatines after they have been rolled up, tied off, and are ready to head into the oven. I cook them at 400F with a probe thermometer, until the internal temperature reaches 160F. I cook them at 400 because when I did the boneless fabrication of the chicken, I made a point to leave as much of the skin on the chicken as possible. When I cook the ballatines at 400F, that skin will get nice and crispy, and add a whole other layer of flavor to the slices. here are the ballatines right before they went into the oven. Also, after I took this picture, I brushed the ballatines with a mixture of corn oil and paprika, to aid the browning of the chicken skin:
After coming out of the oven, which you can see in the featured image, the ballatines have a fantastic color and texture…and the flavor is out of this world. One thing to note here is that as mentioned above; because a forcemeat behaves like whole muscle, the texture of of the pork is virtually identical to that of the chicken around it. This leads to a fantastic appetizer bite, with the flavors of the pistachios, dried cranberries, the spices in the pork, the flavor of the pork, the crispiness of the chicken skin…basically, the best finger food I have ever found. Below, you can see one of the slices:
One thing that I want you to make note of is that you can see the moisture on my cutting board from the ballatine. This comes from both the whole chicken that I used, cooked to the perfect temperature, and the moisture from the emulsion of the forcemeat. I have called forcemeat “meat 2.0”, because of the amazing things that you can do with it. I strongly suggest you do some searching online for different ways to make forcemeat…once you do, I promise you that you won’t want to go back to plain old meats again 🙂
Until next time, Chef Curry