While I was getting some new tires on Miss Linda’s SUV the other day, I saw a recipe in a magazine that looked interesting—Chicken Ballotine. Now I had never heard of this dish, but according to the article, any culinary student would be able to recite that “a ballotine is a single portion, usually a boneless leg, filled with a savoury farce and most often served hot.” It looked good, and I thought it would be even better smoked.
So I went home and took some chicken pieces and sausages out of the freezer to thaw (turned out there was no ground pork—only 2 Italian Hot and 2 Honey Garlic sausages). When thawed, I mixed up a batch of JJ’s chicken brine and when it cooled, put the chicken parts in to brine overnight. Just the usual package of boneless, skinless breast and thighs that we always eat.
The next day, I fired up the MES, set it at 240*, and filled the AMNPS with Pitmaster Choice.
While it was heating, I started the food prep. I had to change recipe portions to take into account using 1 large breast and 3 thighs instead of 2 legs.
2 large chicken legs (substituted 1 breast and 3 thighs)
¾ pound ground pork (sub.1.3 pounds sausages)
2 TBSP pistachio nuts (naturally, didn’t have any)
2 TBSP dried cherries
1 TBSP grainy mustard
1/3 cup bread crumbs (sub. 2/3 cup)
1 egg (sub. 2 eggs)
½ tsp fresh thyme leaves (sub. 1 tsp)
Sauce: (doubled everything)
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP flour
1 tsp diced onion
1 cup milk
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
The sausages I knew from experience are VERY fatty, so I steamed them to remove as much grease as possible.
All the ingredients were mixed and placed in the fridge while the chicken parts were prepared. The chicken parts were to be flattened out using a mallet, but since I don’t have one, I just used a full can of soup—worked pretty well.
The meat stuffing was formed into meatball sized portions. Since I had twice as much chicken as called for, I had doubled the filling—way too much. Where I come from you don’t waste food, so all the extra meatballs became just that—meatballs waiting to be smoked.
Placing the filling on the flattened chicken, you then fold all the sides up and make a chicken cup. Strips of parchment paper were wrapped around each serving and held in place with toothpicks to help hold the chicken in shape while cooking. The little guy in the middle is a leftover piece of breast.
By this time, the MES was up to temp and the AMNPS was happily smoking away, so everything went into the smoker—the meatballs on the top rack and the chicken just below.
OK, time for the sauce. Cook the butter, onion, and flour over medium heat until the flour starts to color, then add bay leaf, thyme and milk and simmer for 10 minutes. Once thick enough to coat a spoon, strain and season with S & P.
After 1 hour, the meatballs were ready, so they went into the oven to stay warm.
At almost exactly the 2 hour mark, the chicken was done. IT of the breast was 165* and the thighs were just over 170*. They looked beautiful. Great!!
Plated everything up, and served it with a salad for Miss Linda and coleslaw for me. While I was cutting my breast in half for the money shot, Miss Linda took a taste of her thigh. The first words out of her mouth were “I don’t think I like this.”
Oh Oh!! I took a taste of mine and unfortunately had to agree with her—it was TERRIBLE!!!!
Whether it was the taste of the 2 kinds of sausage mixed together, or the thyme flavored sausage, or a combination, I just don’t know. What I do know, is that the only one who ate the Chicken Ballotine was Roxy—a Lab will eat anything. Good thing, too, as she has a lot of it to eat over the next week.
So. Supper was a total disaster. But (silver lining in a rain cloud), I got to spend a beautiful day sitting next to my smoker, I finally learned that if you brine chicken it will come off the smoker moist and juicy, and that I will be rinsing the chicken very well next time it comes out of the brine—it was just too salty.
Maybe this dish would be good using only ground pork, maybe it wouldn’t. I just don`t know. What I do know is that I won’t be recommending it to anyone.
Thanks for looking