Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Lasting Influence

For dinner tonight, my husband wanted roast chicken.  Even though a whole bird looks grand coming right out of the oven with crackling brown skin and beautiful aromas, I wanted to do something a little different.  Let's face it, chicken is the base line that everyone compares neutral flavors to.  Regardless of what the meat really is, when confronted with a new bland item, the response is often "dunno, tastes like chicken."  Now, this doesn't mean that a perfectly roasted chicken doesn't make for a fantastic meal...

So, in my quest for something new (and more complicated?), I went old-school.  Old school French, and old school CIA.  I mean, really, who makes a chicken galantine on a Sunday afternoon?  And thus the title of this post.  No matter what I do, the CIA Pro-Chef still resides on my bookshelf, and my culinary education, my foundation, will always have an impact on who I am as a cook.

The dish I ended up with is a classic preparation of bird - think the original Turducken.  You take your fowl, and put it breast side down on the cutting board.  You then score down the spine and gently cut and pull the skin away from the entire bird in one piece.  You cut around the ankle and wing to free the skin and voila, you have a chicken wrapper.  Next, carve the breasts off, remove the tenders, and pound the breasts to an even 3/8".  Roughly dice the tenders.  Remove the remaining meat from the legs, back and wings, and dice as well.  Save the carcass for some tasty stock.

In a food processor or meat grinder, bring down the meat into a rough paste.  You'll want to add a binder (breadcrumbs, cream, eggs, cooked rice...) and some flavorings.  I used rice, rosemary, and some sauteed mushrooms with Madeira to give flavor and hold everything together.  The filling is much prettier if you use colorful things like pistachios or dried cherries.  Fold in your garnishes and binder, and get ready to roll.  Make sure you're seasoning with salt at each step.

Lay out your skin, insides side up.  The skin should be trimmed of any excess fat or ickyness.  Place the two breasts so they are close to the most raggedy edge of the skin.  Put a log of filling on top of the breasts, then roll snugly until the filling is encased in breast meat, and the meat is encased in skin.  Now, you'll want to do a running truss to hold the shape, and refrigerate until ready to use.  I roasted mine at 375F in a convection oven for about 40 minutes, until the internal temperature was 165F.  I basted with olive oil throughout, then let it rest for a few, and topped it with some beech mushrooms cooked down with shallots and more Madeira.  You could also poach this item and serve cold.