Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Daring Cooks' April, 2013 Challenge: Make No Bones About It!

For the April Daring Cooks Challenge, Lisa from Parsley, Sage and Sweet has challenged us to debone a whole chicken, using this video by Jacques Pepin as our guide; then stuff it, tie it and roast it, to create a Chicken Ballotine. I am super excited since this is my first challenge of Daring Kitchen, I will try my best to do it! I have been checking out recipes of different savory and baking stuff and its amazing, so finally its time for me to jump in to participate. I never really debone a whole chicken, only some wings and thighs in my past...but I will try this to learn and improve my cooking skills. 

This challenge is not just cooking a dish but more a journey for me. First thing I need to do is to buy a boning knife, never use one before, I only use my trustworthy chef's knife many years...its time to step up now!  I went Junors on Shop on DonMills to see if they have any, lucky me they did and actually they are on sale. Of course I won't say no, I handled a few and bought a small sized one mainly for poultry. But I should say they are ultra sharp, even much much sharper than my sharpened chef's knife, I know I have to be careful not cut myself or lose a finger...ouch I can feel pain even thinking about that! Hmm...sounds not to difficult for my first step, now... my bird... I don't think I can finish up a whole chicken, even with my friend, so how about a partridge, a bird smaller in size, same family as pheasant, lean, with good flavor and most important I can finish my meal! (but later on I found out a smaller bird is actually more challenging) Sorry for this long post but I have to tell everything!

For this amazing Ballotine, I tried to stick with original recipe and varied a few things, you need..

time required
  • debone a partridge - depends on your experience, took me 30 minutes
  • my own porcini, leek, barley and figs stuffing - one hour
  • Pinot Noir sauce - 25 minutes (see recipe below)
  • herb butter - 5 minutes
  • roasted root vegetables (parsnip, rainbow carrots and mini squash)- 45 minutes

  • sharp or debone knife
  • kitchen twine
  • roasting pan

Partridge Ballotine

you need
  • one partridge (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • salt and pepper
  • porcini, leek, barley and figs stuffing (see recipe below)
  • a small carrot (cut into long strips)
  • herb butter (melted, I use rosemary infused butter)
  • honey
  • parsley for garnish

  • preheat your oven to 375 F and lay carrot strips on roasting pan
  • debone my partridge
  • have my partridgelie skin side down on a work surface and sprinkle with the salt and pepper
  • spread my cool porcini and barley stuffing evenly over my bird - don't forget to stuff the legs too
  • roll my partridge up, tie it with kitchen twine, and place it in a roasting pan
  • place partridge on roasting pan, brush with herb butter and roast my Ballotine for about 30 minutes until its centre reach reach 160 to 165 F. I brush my ballotine couple times during roasting and brush it with honey for the last time
  • place it on platter and cover with foil to keep warm
  • assemble sauce and roast vegetables
  • carefully place Ballotine on cutting board, remove twine and slice it and serve it with some parsley as garnish
here are some photos..

My partridge has deboned and stuffed!  It took me a while cause partridge is much smaller than chicken, and more delicate to work with. I also have to watch out not cutting myself! But finally I got it done, however I think I stuffed it a bit too much and it become too fat!!

Yeah, I have my bird roll up and tie it with kitchen twine and my Ballotine is ready to go into preheated oven.  Hope it looks as good after roasting too!

Hmm, my Ballotine smell so good! Now let it come out and rest a bit and I will go assemble my sauce and roasted vegetables... then dinner time!

Yay! Everything is ready, let me slice my Ballotine now, I really can't resist, its smell so good in my kitehen.  I think I slice my Ballotine into five pieces (I am too hungry and lost count!), just good for dinner of two!

Finally my Ballotine is ready to serve. It taste really amazing, the tender & moist meat, tasty porcini barley stuffing and roasted earthy vegetables melted together in my mouth. My partridge has very lean meat and it goes really well with my creamy stuffing and roasted earthy vegetables just balance my dish out! I am so glad I am able to finished my first Daring Kitchen's challenge and a little secret.... I made enough stuffing for couple more birds.... and had one for a cornish hen too! This is a fun, educational and very rewarding experience and I am sure I will take more challenges again!

Notes and recipe within recipe.....

  • 375 ml Pinot Noir or any red wine you like (more to drink during cooking and dinner)
  • one celery stalk (finely diced)
  • one small carrot (finely diced)
  • one French shallot (finely diced)
  • half small onion (finely diced)
  • one clove garlic (finely diced with inner green sprout removed)
  • about 125 ml chicken stock
  • olive oil
  • two tablespoons roux
  • salt and pepper
  • a small dollop unsalted butter
  • heat olive oil on sauce pan, add in shallot & onion and sweat them
  • add in garlic, then celery, shallot, add a bit salt and let them cook until soft
  • add your wine and let it cook and reduce to one third
  • add in chicken stock and reduce to half again
  • strain and discard all solids and return sauce to sauce pan and heat it up
  • whisk in roux to thicken your sauce until it can coat back of spoon, I know nearly done
  • keep your sauce warm, season with salt and pepper
  • just before serving, add in small dollop butter

porcini, leek, barley and figs stuffing (good for three small birds like partridge)
  • 1/2 cup pearl barley
  • 30 g dried porcini (soaked and finely chopped, 50 ml soaking water strained and reserved)
  • half small onion (finely chopped)
  • half leek stalk (cleaned and thinly sliced)
  • 250 ml hot chicken stock
  • two tablespoon Rum 
  • one tablespoon olive oil
  • one tablespoon butter
  • one teaspoon sweet paprika
  • two tablespoon crème fraîche
  • six dried figs (stalk removed and finely chopped)
  • salt, pepper and honey (optional)
  • heat butter and olive in a heavy bottom pot on medium
  • add in onion and a bit salt to sweat
  • add in leek and cook till it soften up
  • add in pearl barley and cook for about 2 minutes
  • add in Rum and cook until it evaporates
  • add in soaked porcini, sweet paprika and cook for another minute
  • add in hot chicken stock and porcini water in a few addition until pearl barley cooked through, keep stirring and this may take about thirty minutes
  • add in dried figs when your barley is nearly done
  • add your crème fraîche and keep cooking, nearly there
  • season with salt, pepper, honey and let your filling cool and firm up before stuffing your bird

Your sauce and stuffing can make ahead of time and keep it in fridge for a couple days or freeze them for future use. This recipe can vary depend on your taste like different stuffing or different kind of birds (roasting time may varied)...just have fun!


  1. Nice job. I can imagine that this smaller bird must have been more difficult to debone than a larger chicken.

    1. Thanks! It did took me a while to debone it, but I am glad I did it finally!

  2. Ahh...the beautiful partridge! I'm so glad you took part in my challenge and took it to another level!

    1. Thanks! I love your recipe and I'll do it again, I found its delicious and don't have to worry about bones at all when serving this dish!

  3. Awesome job. I can suppose this small fowl must have been more difficult to debone than a bigger poultry.
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