On a roll with stuffed chicken
Picnic food is a whole genre on its own, with pâtés and rillettes, baguettes, spreads and pickles best accompanied by bottles of chilled bubbly, writes Hennie Fisher
AT THIS time of the year we don’t often think of having picnics. Perhaps that is why one dreams of a life where one could migrate to warmer climes for the better part of the winter, where it is pretty and green and where one could still venture out for a picnic.
For a picnic, nothing beats a deboned chicken roll with a lovely herby stuffing served at room temperature. It allows one to travel with it presliced (and kept together) to serve single slices with a little salad and some pickles, and it is hugely economical as it can easily serve eight people.
The food world often seems to be confused by its own vocabulary. Therefore it may be best to simply refer to what is described here as a chicken roll, and forgo classification as a roulade, ballotine or galantine.
There are various ways to debone a chicken, with the main difference being whether to cut through the bird or deboning it without cutting the skin. The latter is referred to as the “glove” method: the entire bird is deboned from one of the openings, leaving one with a pouch that needs to be filled and secured at the ends.
This method requires a larger amount of filling, and one is seldom able to get such a neat roll.
In any event, if the dish is served cold, it will hold together nicely, making the reasoning behind not wanting an additional cut on one side moot.
The other way requires one to cut through either the backbone or breast of the bird. To do this, clean out the bird, rinse lightly and dry carefully. Lay the bird down onto the breast and cut from the neck through the skin, right onto the bone down to the tail end of the bird. There is very little meat here, so one will really just be cutting through the skin.
Now begin to push the meat away from the carcass working on one side only at first (
At both the wing and thigh joints, look for the cartilage that sits right in the joint and simply cut through, releasing the wing bone and the thigh bone from the main carcass. Lightly push the breast meat away from the carcass but keep it intact on the skin side. At the breast bone, be careful not to cut any of the skin, as again there is very little, if any, meat between the bone and the skin.
One should now have the full half of the carcass exposed with the wing and thigh/leg joints still intact. Perform exactly the same procedure on the other side, and carefully remove the inner carcass part. The bird can now be laid flat, skin side down. You should have the two breasts exposed with the four joints spreading out from there (
It is easier to remove the wing tip (pinion) and the first bone thereafter, cutting straight through the skin and joint, thus leaving the third wing bone which is deboned by scraping the meat away from the bone all around the bone and pulling the bone in, so that the bit of skin pulls into the main part. At the thigh, the bone is simply removed by pushing away the meat from the bone.
The drumstick is best deboned by removing a small bit of the yellow knuckle by chopping right through it onto the cutting board and then deboning exactly as for the wing bone.
One should now be left with the entire bird deboned and all the meat lying flat on the skin.
The skin should be intact with four slits where the joints pulled into the main part.
It should not be necessary to flatten the remaining meat, but do arrange the meat evenly all over the skin. Place your filling (in this case a layer of Parma ham and a rough pork mince and herb forcemeat) over the chicken meat along the middle.
Roll up tightly, and then either stitch up all the cuts with kitchen twine or simply tie one continuous loop of string around using a blanket stitch type tie ( so that removing it is easier. Roast and serve either cold or warm.