I'm just a humble amateur home chef, but I've been inspired by my latest checkout from the public library, Michael Ruhlman's Charcuterie. I'm not even much of a meat eater, I don't eat pork at all, and yet I find this book fascinating.
Anyway, I had time on my hands and was ready for a challenge, so I picked the chicken galantine to make.
It's not really a hard recipe, but the first step is the most difficult, and that is skinning the entire chicken in one piece. Some other recipes have you keep the boned meat attached to the skin, but this one just demands removing the skin in one piece, with small holes where you remove it from the wingtips and legs. I actually succeeded in this quite well, in no less than 45 minutes. Problem was that you are supposed to be able to trim an 8-inch by 12-inch "neat" rectangle from the skin. Well, my skin was very irregularly shaped and was not going to form a neat rectangle of even half that size, so I needed to do lots of cutting and pasting and ended up with a very rough and inelegant rectangle. Any tips on this point would be appreciated.
Next was boning the chicken and removing the breasts. I was left with a skinless, almost meatless carcass which I used to make about 3/4 gallon of chicken stock. I chilled the dark meat and some trimmings from the breasts and ground them through my Kitchen Aid grinder attachment with about 6.5 oz. of beef fat. Then I browned the chicken breasts, cooked some shallots in the pan and made a Marsala reduction. Next the ground meat went into the cuisinart with the reduction, egg whites, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, white pepper, salt. Next step was folding in 3/4 cup of cream (I think the last step of this recipe is a coronary angioplasty!)
Now I just needed to fold pistachios and sauteed mushrooms into the forcemeat and I was ready to go.
I placed my inelegant chicken skin rectangle on cheesecloth, then layered half the forcemeat on top. I then placed the chicken breasts end-to-end on top, and covered them with the rest of the forcemeat.
Unfortunately the chicken skin only barely covered all this filling, and there were some gaps where the trimmed skin was pasted together, but I just covered the cheesecloth over everything, formed a log, and tied it off at both ends with butcher twine.
Next I poached the entire thing (which, by the way, seemed like the size of a bazooka) in the chicken broth in a roasting pan at 170 degrees for thirty minutes, then let in cool in the liquid, then let it chill overnight in the fridge (still in the liquid).
Meanwhile I made a sauce of orange marmalade, orange and lemon peel, fresh and dried ginger and sherry.
Finally, it was time to open the thing up.
Thank goodness, the thing was a coherent and not unshapely log. Even where there were gaps in the skin the filling conformed to the shape of the cheesecloth. Would have been nice to have the skin perfect, but oh well. Let me tell you, it's not really the most attractive looking dish at this stage.
But guess what? Slicing into wedges resulted in perfect oval slices with a pale yellow border of skin perfectly framing the filling. The filling itself was flecked with little round green chunks of pistachio and swaths of mushroom. In the center was an oval of chicken breast, with perfect integration into the filling. Looked sort of like a Mondrian or Russian constructivist painting.
And the taste? Pretty good, although could have been spiced a little more aggressively. It's a little weird to eat chicken skin in this way, but not too bad.
I'd rate the dish 2/10 on appearance when uncut, 9/10 on appearance of slices and 5/10 on flavor.
Was it worth it? Well, let's just say I wanted to make something nice for my girlfriend who is about to start law school finals, so I served this with pumpkin soup made with the poaching liquid and some brown rice with tofu (Food pairing is not my forte). I think she liked it, but probably found it kind of strange, and was certainly alarmed by the fat content.
Would I make it again? Yes, but just to get the damn chicken skin right this time!
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