According to Larousse Gastronomique, a Ballotine is made of a piece of meat, fowl or game (or fish) which is boned, stuffed and rolled into a bundle. Don’t let the fancy French term nor the appearance of the dish intimidate you – this is easy to prepare and you’ll impress yourself as well as your guests.
The meat used here is a boned chicken leg (easily found at your supermarket or favourite butcher) that’s been lightly pounded until evenly flat then stuffed with a mixture of onions, mushrooms, bread crumbs, herbs and some Kasseri cheese I brought back from Greece. This particular cheese comes from the Thracian island of Samothrace and it’s been one of fave cheeses since discovering it this past May in Greece.
The stuffed chicken leg gets tightly rolled with an outer layer of bacon which becomes the new outer skin. You’ll need some aluminum foil and relax…no need to use those rusty trussing skills to tie-up the meat. The foil keeps everything in a roll and it gets unwrapped towards the end to allow the bacon to crisp-up. Each leg serves two persons so you can easilt multiply this recipe to accommodate a larger gathering.
Chicken Ballotine With Kasseri (Μπαλοτίν Κοτοπουλο Γεμιστο με Κασερι)
2 large chicken legs, boned
approx. 12 slices of bacon
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of Cremini mushrooms, quartered
1 hot of Metaxa brandy
approx. 1/2 cup of coarse bread crumbs, lightly toasted
1 tsp. of fresh thyme leaves
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
4 batons of Kasseri cheese ( or other firm white cheese like Graviera or Gruyere)
Pre-heated 350F oven
- Make the stuffing: add olive oil to a skillet over medium heat and then add the onions, garlic, mushrooms and thyme and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir and allow to sweat for about 5 minutes. Add the brandy and simmer for a couple of minutes then take off the heat and add the breadcrumbs stir in. Add salt and pepper to taste and take off the heat and allow to cool. Add chopped fresh parsley, stir-in and reserve.
- Ask your butcher to bone the chicken legs and remove the skin. Rinse the legs and pat dry then place plastic wrap on your work surface and over the meat. Gently pound the meat to flatten it out into an almost uniform square (be careful not to create any holes).
- Place a large piece of aluminum foil on your work surface then place the bacon on top, slightly overlapping each other. Lay the flattened chicken leg on top then lightly season the meat facing up with salt and pepper. Spread the stuffing over the surface of meat and then line the batons of cheese in the middle (lengthwise) and roll-up into a log. Now roll-up the foil around the chicken log and twist the ends until the foil has tightly secured your roll. Repeat for remaining boned chicken legs.
- Place on baking sheet lined with a rack then into middle rack of your pre-heated 35oF oven for 35 minutes then take the Ballotine(s) out of the oven, remove the foil and place back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the bacon has crisped. Remove from the oven and allow 1o minutes resting period before slicing. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes or Greek roasted potatoes or baked rice with red peppers.
- Serve with a chilled bottle of Domaine Vourvokelis White Lagara from Xanthi.
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