Chicken Ballotine (Ballotines de Volailles et Pommes Savonnettes)

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Ah yes, another elaborate French dinner with butter, creme, wine, and cognac. I'm glad this was too much work, if I could eat it more often I'd need a coronary bypass by the age of 40.
As with the last French meal, mes amis Tyler and Lily were the guinea pigs, and they both agreed it was better than the boeuf bourguignon.

Here's a general overview:

A few weeks ago I made another batch of stock, this time with beef and chicken. I froze half of it, then reduced the other half, by half. This made what is known as a demi-glace. The condensation of the collagen gives it the consistency of a jelly when it is cool, and it was used as the base of the creme sauce. I took half of the demi-glace and reduced that to 1/4, until it had the consistency of thick caramel. This is what is known as glace de viande. When it cools it is hard as a rock and keeps in the fridge longer than Walt Disney. Break a little chunk off and add it to liquid and you've got a supercondensed bit of meat flavor that forms the basis of many a sauce, including the one you see above in caramel-colored streaks.

The chicken is made by de-boning a whole bird while keeping the skin intact. The dark meat is combined with heavy creme and white pepper and pureed into a mousse. The mousse is layered on top of the breast, and the whole shebang is wrapped and tied in the skin of the chicken. It is then panfried in wine, cognac, and herbs, and served with the two sauces above.

The potatoes are delicious. The french name, pommes savonnettes, literally means "soap potatoes," because of their shape. This is much less appetizing when you know what it means, but the taste makes up for it. They are a bit time consuming, since you have to carve the potatoes into cylinder shapes, cut 1-inch coins, and bevel the edges. But after that, it's all very easy. It goes in an ovensafe sauce pan with some water, butter, and salt. Once the water boils, they go in the oven until the water has baked off and the potatoes are left to get crispy brown in the butter. They also tasted delicious with the two sauces. You want the recipe? Buy Jacques P├ępin's book (see several posts below).

Five classes, the duties of being on law journal, and looking for a summer job aren't going to keep me from making the occasional elaborate meal.


Panang Curry Meatballs - Recipe

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Kitchen Monkey is back from a long winter hiatus (although, I have a hard time calling what we've had in D.C. "winter"). Before the recipe, here's an update on what's new, foodwise and otherwise.
  • For the first time, the Monkey is an uncle. That's right: my brother and sister-in-law had a beautiful baby daughter on Christmas morning! When she is old enough, she will no doubt feel enormous gratitude toward her uncle for featuring the news of her birth in a food post about meatballs.
  • The New Year's Eve feast was both delicious and dangerous. I won't mention names, but one friend cut himself two or three times. Another had the skin of her hands aflame from some allergy to the butternut squash she was preparing. And Kitchen Monkey? After slaving in a kitchen for five hours, perhaps with too little sleep and too many glasses of wine, fell asleep at around 11 pm, only to be woken up just minutes before the countdown. The food was great though: a ginger green bean salad, which I will post the recipe for eventually; butternut squash soup; mashed potatoes; no-knead bread; and my piece de resistance, a giant leg of lamb marinated in yoghurt, spices, and onion, and grilled to perfection.
  • Law school has resumed. In previous semesters, I lost much of my enthusiasm midway through the semester. This time is different. I've lost enthusiasm after the first week. I exaggerate, a little. The Immigration course and Legal Ethics both appear fairly interesting.
Now that you've been patient, you will be rewarded with a truly delicious meatball recipe. You may recall I had them at a potluck a little while back and found them highly addictive. Jennie, who brought the meatballs, was kind enough to get the recipe from her mother, who graciously approved of my posting it here. I thank both of them, and hope that many readers will try them. You'll notice it takes less preparation than many of the recipes I've been posting lately, so you have no excuse not to try them! But next on Kitchen Monkey, we're back to the absurdly complicated French stuff, this time a Chicken Ballotine with glace de viande. Happy New Year!

Panang Meatballs

3-4 lbs. ground beef, formed into balls, about the size of a golf ball
1 can coconut milk
4oz panang curry paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons kafir lime leaves (cut into shreds) (Whole Foods often has kafir lime leaves, but you'll more likely find them at a good Asian market. If you can't find them, the zest of two limes will give a different, but still nice flavor).
1/2 cup basil leaves
2 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Using medium heat, let four tablespoons of the coconut milk come to a boil.
2. Add in panang curry paste, stir.
3. Put the meatballs in, and stir until they are thoroughly cooked.
4. Add half of the remaining coconut milk. Keep stirring.
5. Add the fish sauce and the sugar.
6. Add the rest of the coconut milk.
7. When the coconut milk thickens, add the basil leaves and kafir lime leaves.
8. Give it a taste. You may need to add in more fish sauce or sugar depending on your preference