Chicken ballotine

Chicken ballotine

If you love chicken and want to cook a dish that not only tastes good but looks elegant and refined as well; look no more! Let me introduce you to the ballotine. A what? A ballotine: a boned leg (chicken, duck, rabbit, etc.) stuffed with basically anything (traditionally with a farce of the liver and heart; don’t run yet! Bare with!) and tied up into a sausage-like shape. Usually the skin is used to hold everything together. Okay, breathe: we’re not going the traditional way. In this recipe, I’ll be removing the skin and using bacon instead, and stuffing the leg with some Italian loveliness. This dish works really well as main dish for special occasions.


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For 2 persons

  • 2 chicken legs with bones
  • 10-12 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 tablespoons sun dried tomatoes tapenade
  • Basil leaves


  • 100 gr Arborio rice
  • 325 ml chicken stock
  • 1 small onion
  • A knob of butter


  • 2 handfuls of basil leaves
  • 2 tbs pine nuts
  • Good quality olive oil
  • A handful of grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Salt and pepper


  1. First bone the chicken legs. Place the leg skin-side down. With your fingers locate the bones and, with a sharp knife, make a cut along the bones. Scrape away the flesh around them. Gently remove the bones, trying to keep the meat as one, and discard. Make sure to remove any small pieces of bone still attached to the meat. Carefully remove the skin from the meat.
  2. On a large piece of cling film place half of the bacon rashers lengthwise next to each other with a bit of overlap. Place the boned chicken leg with skinned side down on the bacon.
  3. Spread a tablespoon of tapenade and place a couple of basil leaves and roll the chicken to make a sausage. The bacon should cover all the chicken. Wrap the cling film tightly and tie it on both sides. Place in the fridge for at least an hour.
  4. Make the pesto. Mix the basil leaves, crushed garlic clove, pine nuts and olive oil with a blender. Stir in the Parmegiano Reggiano and add some pepper to taste.
  5. Take the chicken out of the fridge and bring a large pan with water to a boil. Poach the ballotines about 20 minutes.
  6. In another pan, melt the butter and add the chopped the onion. Once the onion is translucent, add the rice and hot stock. Cover and cook, without stirring, until the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the ballotines from the pan. Carefully discard the cling film (be careful of the hot water that might have gotten in). Heat a frying with a bit of oil and fry the ballotines on high heat until the bacon is brown and crispy.
  8. Once cooked, remove the risotto from the heat and stir in a heaped tablespoon of pesto.
  9. In the serving plates, scoop the risotto in the middle of the plates. Cut the ballotines in thick slices and place on top of the risotto. Sprinkle some fresh ground black pepper and drizzle some olive oil. Bon appétit!

To make it a bit fancier, replace the bacon with Parmaham or Serrano ham, stuff the ballotine with mushrooms, garlic and thyme and serve it with truffle risotto. A wonderful explosion of flavours!

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