This French technique gives you a beautiful poached parcel of meat, stuffed with juicy filling and fried to crisp up. What are you waiting for? Here’s how!
1. Make up some stuffing in a big bowl. A classic ballotine filling is sausage meat. Just squeeze some nice sausages out of their skins and mix in any extra fillings.
Richard uses breadcrumbs and lemon zest, and a bit of water to lighten it all.
2. Lay a big sheet of cling film out on a work surface. Season it with some salt and pepper and place your meat on top. You want a piece of meat that's completely boneless, about 1cm thick. You can take the skin off if you like, but it'll crisp up nicely when you come to fry the ballotine off.
A classic ballotine is made with chicken but you can use anything you like, including fish too. Richard uses a whole boned guinea fowl here.
3. Use the cling film to help you roll up the meat, starting from the longest side to get a long, thin sausage. Roll it nice and tightly.
4. Keeping the roll tight, twist it at each end, like a cracker. This will seal it so no water gets into it when it’s poached.
You can put it in the fridge now if you’re getting ahead with your prep.
5. Fill a pan, big enough to fit the ballotine in, with water and bring to the boil. Sit the ballotine in the water and over a gentle heat, poach it for 15-20 minutes. The time will vary depending on the size of your meat. If you're unsure, unwrap the ballotine and check the middle is piping hot.
Chef's note: A poach is very gentle, lower than a simmer and is used to very gently cook delicate food like fish, eggs, and meat you want to keep very tender.
6. Take it out of the water and carefully peel off the cling film. Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan until very hot, then fry your ballotine until it’s nice and golden all over.
Then just slice it and it’s ready. A diagonal slice will look best and sit neatly on the plate.
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