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.


Barbara (Biscuit Girl) said...

Looks absolutely delicious!

Tyler said...

As a bonafied guinea pig, I can attest that this meal was frighteningly good. The chicken tasted more like chicken than chicken and yet nothing like any chicken I had ever tasted. I would gladly spend hours in a maze or on a spinning wheel for more.

Thanks Kitchenmonkey!

limorbh said...

Looks amazing and so very professional... Can we make something this weekend?

Jeena said...

Hi Your food blog looks great and you have some lovely recipes, I will be back to visit you.

Jeena xx

visit jeenas blog for healthy recipes
updated daily !

ylimuuli said...

Just HAD to say hello since I presume we're distantly related - monkeyfood.net. Oh my Lord how absolutely stunning recipies and photos. Drools from Finland, and cheers!

Tiuscha said...

Funny name "savonnettes" !

Anonymous said...

It really does inspire a foodies heart to see Great food spoken in its native tongue.