Chicken ballotine is the roasted version of chicken galantine. The galantine is poached and is served cold. I like the idea of a hot, boneless, roasted, and stuffed chicken better, so I was very anxious to make this one. This chicken ballotine wouldn't have been possible without Jacques Pepin's incredible ability to teach very complicated concepts so thoroughly and well. Boning a chicken is not as easy as it looks . . . and it doesn't look that easy.
1. For this recipe you will need to bone a whole chicken. The first thing you do is cut down the back bone, just through the skin. Next, remove the outer two sections of the wings (save for stock). Cut the chicken at the shoulder between the joints to free the wings. Then peel the meat and skin down on each side until you get to the hips. After that, cut the hip joints and peel the meat right off the frame.
2. Continue boning the chicken. Now you just have to remove the leg bones and wing bones. Cut around the joint and scrape the meat from the bone. Break the leg bones at the tip with the back of your knife to keep the hole closed. Boning a chicken is difficult to describe. For extra help learning how to do this, do an Internet search for "Pepin chicken boned"; his video will be a big help.
3. Stuff the boned chicken. Fillet a few pieces of the breast to even the meat out a little. Make the stuffing and spoon it into the cavity. My stuffing recipe is a pretty classic one, and it tastes very much like you expect stuffing to taste. However, there are many different stuffings that could be used here—be creative and have fun.
4. Roll and tie the stuffed chicken back together. Pull the sides of the chicken together like you're trying to put it back the way it was. Next, flip it over on its back and use butcher's twine to tie the chicken together. Start at the legs and work your way to the front. Don't tie the string too tightly, for the chicken may expand. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
5. Roast the chicken uncovered in high heat first. Once the oven is up to temp, put the chicken in on the middle rack. Set the timer for twenty minutes and shut the door. You won't want to open the oven door for at least ten minutes; at that point check the chicken very quickly. If needed, rotate the chicken to help it cook more evenly.
6. Cover and continue roasting the chicken. After twenty minutes, the chicken should be nicely browned. If not, leave it in for a few more minutes. Remove the chicken and cover it loosely with foil or a metal mixing bowl—this works really well for me. Turn the heat on the oven down to 350 degrees and put the chicken in for another forty-five minutes.
7. Roast the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 161 degrees F. Use a digital thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken and the stuffing. Keep roasting it until it gets to 161 degrees. Once it does, remove it and place it on a rack to drain into the baking dish. Keep it covered and let it rest for thirty to forty minutes.
8. Make gravy from the drippings. Strain the drippings into a sauce pan and add a roux or just some flour to thicken it. Whisk it really well over medium heat while adding the flour or roux. Once the gravy is thickened, taste it and adjust the flavors. If you don't have enough liquid, you can add some chicken stock.
9. After the chicken has rested, slice it. Remove the twine and use a sharp, serrated knife to slice the chicken without destroying it. Slice it, starting from the front, about three-quarters of an inch thick. Serve with the gravy on it or on the side—or both. Some mashed potatoes would be good, too. You might at well make some sweet potatoes while you're at it.
If the bottom or back of your chicken is leaking stuffing, you can put a little aluminum foil back there under the twine to keep it from coming out.
The chicken bones and carcasses should be saved to make stock later. Pop them into the freezer until you need them.
Remember, don't open the oven too often or you will delay the cooking of your chicken. This is especially true during the first stage of cooking.
Don't forget to let the chicken rest for thirty to forty minutes before you serve it. Otherwise, you will lose all of the juices, and it may just fall apart.