Saturday, October 15, 2011


Well, most of you know how I feel about chicken.   So when I read about this months challenge, I thought seriously of rillettes-  something I knew I would love to eat.   However, I realized I had only boned a chicken once, and I don't think that was a very nice experience.  Obviously, this was something I had to master, to overcome- like my fear of heights.... 
And I considered this to be a good excuse to by a new boning knife- the glorious boning knife seen below- and, since I was there at the knife cabinet at Williams-Sonoma, I also decided it was time to purchase it's close associate, the 8" chef's knife lying beside it. 

My problem the first time I attempted this feat, I decided, was that I didn't have proper instruction.   That was in a cooking class 20 years ago offered by the Learning Tree in the San Fernando Valley taught by a man who had the technique himself, but didn't really get the message across to the class.   Research in my home library turned up a step by step pictorial in Jacques Pepin's Techniques, and a quick Google turned up an wonderful supporting You Tube video of the very same Jacques on a Tony Bourdain episode boning a chicken in minutes using a knife and his own muscle!

He started by cutting the wing tips off at the second joint, carefully cutting away the wishbone, and then slicing the skin down the back bone.  All of this went well for me, too, and I started to think that I might be able to get the carcass removed in the same 40 something seconds that Jacques did.   However, when I tried to pull away the flesh from the bones at the point shown above, it didn't seem to move as easily as it did for dear Jacques, so I used the tip of my new boning knife to ease things along.  

And soon, the entire carcass was sitting off to the side.  Next step, easing the knife down the thigh bone, separating the leg at the joint, and then, working from the other end of the leg, slicing off the tip of the leg and then pushing the meat up the leg while separating the meat from the bone with the knife.   Same action on the remaining wing bone, et Voila!

One boneless chicken, meat still attached to the skin! At this point, Jacques stuffed his with sausage. And I was ready for this. Before I started the attack on the chicken, using the recipe for Spicing Italian Sausage in Charcuterie as a guide, I had ground about 4 lbs of pork shoulder and mixed it with all those wonderful spices pictured at the beginning of this blog posting.

But, then, I went back and read Cathy Barrows' blog about the October challenge and realized I wasn't done.   And, I realized I was really tense and the suggested possibility of having a drink now sounded like a really good idea, but decided to hold off, once again heeding the example of Mrs. Wheelbarrow.  So, I picked up my magical boning knife and started whittling the meat away from the skin.

Not too long after, I had skinned the bird!  And, because I'm a really competitive person apparently, I feel it is important that I mention that the little tear in the skin that you see in the middle of the lower edge was there on the chicken when I started almost an  hour before.  Yes, Jacques may be able to do it in under a minute; I can do it in under an hour.  ( In all fairness, Jacques stopped short of removing the meat from the skin.... but he was still much faster than I.)

It seems important to mention that, as has happened throughout these monthly challenges, I had a helper in the kitchen through out the deboning and skinning process- dear Kramer did not leave my side in hopes of a dribble on the floor. 

The bones went into the pot, on the stove working it's way to a simmering stock.

Also on the stove top were half an onion,  the chicken's chopped  liver, and about five shitaki mushrooms, all sauteed in olive oil and now simmering with 1/4 cup of Madeira wine.

After spreading the sausage over the skin, the mushroom mixture was spooned over the top.   Those odd looking skin appendages are really just that- the skin that had covered the legs.

Next,  one of the chicken breasts, salted, peppered, and browned in olive oil was trimmed and placed in the center of the mushrooms. 

Now, you may wonder why this fellow is wrapped in cheesecloth.  Two reasons: reason one is because that's the way Jacques did his. Really.   Reason two is because I was, once again, battling a deadline, and I did not cool either the mushroom mixture or the chicken breast.  So, when I rolled it the first time the skin got really soft and wonky, and the galantine got really soft and wonky too.  So, I removed the first string and wrapped it in the cheesecloth.

After pouring a generous glass of wine (it seemed like a safe time now), and then adding a bit of olive oil to the same pan as I had used for the mushrooms (can really call it a duxelle- to coarse a chop on the mushrooms!) I browned the cheesecloth/skin of the galantine, and then...

...plunged it into the strained broth, where it simmered, covered, for just under an hour.

While the galantine simmers, more onion, mushrooms, two Roma tomatoes, some garlic and parsley are also simmering with about a cup and a half of the chicken stock.

And, the finished product was tasty, mainly, in my estimation, because of the wonderfully spiced sausage.   It's all a bit more rustic than the normally fussy and formal galantine would be- I am certain this is a product of the lack of chilling of components before rolling.   And, I didn't use every bit of the chicken; in fact, we have a beautiful chicken breast and two legs and thighs that will become a chicken salad tomorrow. Plus some chicken stock.   And about 3 lbs of Italian sausage.   Not to mention the leftovers from tonight's meal.  Sounds like we are in good shape for dinners this week!

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