Chicken, Basil, and Prosciutto Ballotine
Muffie Fulton is the founder and creative head of Bold Food, which offers classes in the science of cooking and modernist cuisine, as well as curated culinary tours all over the planet. Join her at Feastly SF for some modernist pop-ups this December and January.
A ballotine is a boneless, skinless chicken that is stuffed, rolled, and tied. It makes a beautiful, festive dish for the holidays and is delicious warm or cold. I first made this recipe as an experiment in a Bold Food private cooking workshop, and it was a complete success! After seeing that we had chicken, prosciutto, and basil, we began to think along the lines of European/Mediterranean food. Wanting to make something visually stunning with the ingredients on hand, we decided on a chicken-prosciutto ballotine stuffed with garlic, basil, and chicken sausage. The chicken gets perfectly cooked and retains its moisture due to the sous vide technique, and the fillings provide a ton of flavor.
- 2 whole garlic cloves
- 1 bunch of basil
- 2 ounces Parmesan, cubed
- 1.5 pounds chicken breast (2 breasts)
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon MSG (optional, but recommended)*
- Transglutaminase RM (optional, but recommended)**
- 6 ounces prosciutto
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Immersion circulator
*Monosodium glutamate enhances savory flavors and is completely safe. MSG sensitivity has been a concern for years, but many scientific studies have disproved this. Glutamate is an amino acid present in almost every protein in the body and is one of the most common neurotransmitters in the brain.
**Transglutaminase is an enzyme that binds proteins together, otherwise known as “meat glue.” If you do not use it, the ballontine will likely still hold its shape.
To make the chicken sausage:
- Pulse the garlic in a food processor.
- Add Parmesan and pulse until it resembles small pebbles.
- Roughly cut the chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces.
- Add to the garlic and Parmesan in the food processor and pulse until the chicken is just minced. You don’t want it to be a paste!
- Add salt, MSG, lemon zest, and basil leaves and pulse until basil is in small pieces and incorporated into chicken mixture.
- Test the sausage by cooking a quarter-sized patty in a pan. Add salt (or anything else) if desired.
To make the ballotine:
+Cut each breast horizontally in half and pound each to 1/4 inch thick.
+Lay out a piece of plastic wrap and layer it with the prosciutto, overlapping the slices so there are no gaps.
+Sprinkle prosciutto evenly with a thin layer of the transglutaminase.
+Place the pounded of chicken breasts on the prosciutto.
+Sprinkle chicken breasts with a thin layer of the transglutaminase.
+Spread half of the chicken sausage on top, leaving half an inch or so around the edges.
+Roll up all the layers of meat tightly, but leave plastic wrap on the table.
+Once the meat layers are rolled tightly, roll the entire ballontine in the plastic wrap.
+Hold on to each end of the plastic wrap, twisting each end to tighten the roll.
+Hold the twisted ends to keep them from unrolling, and wrap another piece of plastic wrap around each to secure.
+Pierce the roll 10 times with a cake tester or skewer to ensure all air pockets are eliminated.
+Vacuum seal the ballontine or seal it in a plastic bag, rolling out all of the air.
+Sous vide at 65 C (149F) for 3 hours until internal temperature reads 65C.
+Remove ballotine from the bag and sear in olive oil on high heat until prosciutto is very crispy and browned.
+Slice the ballotine into rounds and serve.