Chicken ballotine

Chicken ballotine

Dean Cambray

A ballotine is a piece of meat or a bird that has been boned out, stuffed and reassembled before cooking. I’m not going to pretend that this is a quick-and-easy dish to knock up for a weekday dinner, but it’s a really good recipe to practise your boning skills on. In restaurant kitchens this job is usually given to an apprentice or trainee cook as their welcome to the world of butchery.

I really urge you to have a go at learning how to bone out various cuts of meat. In this recipe we start small, with a chicken maryland. Most of the work can be done way ahead of time, so it’s a great dish to master for dinner parties. Serve with red wine risotto and a green leaf salad.



Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon butter
100g wood mushrooms, roughly chopped
300g chicken breast, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon thyme
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
100g ham or smoky bacon, cut into 1 cm x 1 cm dice
1 tablespoon brandy
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon shelled pistachio nuts
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 chicken marylands, skin on
olive oil
freshly ground black pepper


  1. To make the stuffing, heat the butter in a non-stick frying pan until it sizzles. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 3–4 minutes until softened. Set aside to cool completely.
  2. Put the chopped chicken breast into the bowl of a food processor. Add an ice cube and pulse for 20–60 seconds to make a smooth paste. Scrape into a mixing bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix together well, then divide into 6 equal portions and refrigerate until needed.
  3. Lay the chicken marylands on a chopping board, skin-side down. Use a small sharp boning knife to cut into the flesh to the start of the thigh bone. Cut along the bone to the knuckle, scraping the flesh away from the bone along its length. Continue from the knuckle to the end of the drumstick to expose the bones completely. Lift them up and away from the flesh and cut them free, taking care not to pierce the flesh.
  4. Place each maryland on a large square of plastic wrap, skin-side down and season with salt and pepper. Place a portion of stuffing on each maryland and use the plastic wrap to help bring the chicken up around the stuffing. Twist the plastic wrap tightly to form a ball. Wrap each ballotine tightly in aluminium foil.
  5. Place the 6 ballotines in a large saucepan of cold water over a medium heat. Just before the water boils, lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 15 minutes, then lift the ballotines out of the pan and transfer them to a bowl of iced water to cool down. When completely cold, unwrap the foil and carefully remove the plastic wrap. The ballotines can be prepared to this stage up to 3 days ahead of time.
  6. Preheat your oven to 200ºC. Place the ballotines on a rack inside a large roasting tin. Brush each ballotine lightly with oil and season. Roast for 12–15 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.
  7. Serve a whole ballotine each, or cut into thick slices to show off the stuffing.
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