In traditional French cuisine, a galantine is a deboned cut of meat which is stuffed with forcemeat, poached, and then served chilled – often coated in aspic. This version does away with the poaching and the aspic, and instead re-imagines the chicken galantine as a hot dish, served like a roasted chicken – but still boneless and stuffed with something delicious. I’ve been meaning to teach myself how to debone a chicken for some time now, and after reading description after description of different techniques, I had an epiphany: I was never going to learn how to debone a chicken by reading about it. Lucky for me (and for you, if you want to try this recipe), the master of technique himself, Jacques Pepin, made an excellent video that demonstrates a very simple way to debone a chicken with a bare minimum of knife work. After a couple of times practicing this technique, I couldn’t believe how easy it actually is to remove all the bones from a chicken and still have an intact skin! I could describe the method, but instead I’ll just ask you to watch this:
So now that you’ve gotten your chicken all deboned, let’s talk about how to make that stuffing that Pepin was using in the video above, and what you need to do to get that wonderful stuffed bird onto a plate.
- 5-10 ounces of fresh spinach, chopped
- 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups 1/2″ bread cubes
- 1 cup Gruyère, Swiss, or mozzarella cheese
Heat oil in a skillet and sweat the garlic for five minutes, taking care not to brown (some shallots are also nice here). Add the spinach and red wine vinegar and cook until nice and wilted, stirring to toss well with the oil and garlic. Remove the spinach from the skillet into a bowl and set aside; allow to cool to room temperature. Mix well with the bread cubes and cheese, adding a dash or so red pepper to taste. Stuff your deboned bird, making sure to get some stuffing into the leg cavities; truss your chicken as seen above and to the right (for technique, see the Pepin video).
Once you’ve gotten your bird all deboned, stuffed, and trussed, it’s just a matter of cooking. Traditionally, the galantine would be poached in broth (slow cooked at about 170 degrees for a few hours) and then allowed to chill overnight. Then, after being decorated with herbs and vegetables, the whole lot would be coated in aspic – which is basically meat Jell-O. But for our method, we sprinkled the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper and roasted it uncovered for an hour and fifteen minutes in a 400 degree oven. This resulted in a chicken that had the crisp skin and rich flavor of a roasted bird – but one we could slice (like you see above) to reveal a gooey filling of fragrant cheese and spinach stuffing. If you’re a fan of cold roasted chicken (like I am) then you can chill this and serve it cold for a more traditional appearance – it’s good that way too. This was a fun technique to learn, and the resulting dish was elegant and delicious. I can’t wait to try Pepin’s technique with Cornish hens and duck next! Enjoy!