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

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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.

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