Chicken Cordon Blues

Here’s a little something for your carnivorous listening pleasure: Chicken Cordon Blues by Steve Goodman. In case you don’t recognize his name, he wrote “City of New Orleans”.

Well, we’re in the last quarter of The Year Of Meat and Charcutepalooza has made darn sure that there are no Chicken Cordon Blues at this house! I haven’t even bothered putting Charcuterie back on the shelf in months and that’s a good thing. Our challenge this month is stretching. As in using every morsel of a chicken and stretching it out to feed eight or so of your best friends and family. Now it’s time to delve into some classic French technique and decide if I am going to attempt the roulade, the galantine or the ballottine.

The first step was to try to understand the differences between them. Since Charcuterie didn’t get into the definitions, off the shelf comes, of course, Julia, and Larousse Gastronomique. Julia says that a galantine is a boned bird stuffed with a meat mixture that is rolled into a sausage shape, poached and chilled. Larousse says that the cylindrical shape makes it, technically, a ballottine but that galantines may be served hot or cold. Just to clarify things a bit more, Larousse also says that a roulade is “any of various preparations which are then stuffed and rolled”. Clear as mud! At least everyone agreed that a forcemeat was part of the equation. The other part of the equation was time – or, for me, lack of time; the first 10 days of October we were going to be hiking the mountains of Virginia then going to a great music festival (It’s not called The Festy Experience for nothing- but more on that another day!).

Decision made! I will be using a big, fat, juicy Emerald Glen Farm chicken and will make my forcemeat from some of their pork mixed with a little veal. I read and read and read and thought I was ready but I procrastinated (big shock!) so we roasted that chicken for dinner. Now time’s running out and chicken #2 is in the fridge so I took the easy way out and made my forcemeat first:

1/2 lb of pork shoulder, cut in 1-inch cubes

1/2 lb of veal shoulder, cut in 1-inch cubes

1/4 lb pork fat, cut in 1-inch cubes

3 T roasted garlic

1/3 C shallots, finely diced

1/4 C dry white wine

2 tsp  sage, minced

2 tsp thyme, minced

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp Kosher salt

Saute the shallots in a little rendered chicken or pork fat (or olive oil or bacon grease) until they are soft. Deglaze with the wine, reduce by half and refrigerate until chilled. Place the veal, pork and pork fat in a large bowl and combine with herbs, salt and pepper. Cover and allow to chill again for at least an hour or, preferably, overnight. Grind the chilled meats though the fine die of a chilled meat grinder into a mixing bowl set in ice. Add the garlic and shallots and beat with the paddle attachment until well mixed and tacky-feeling. Cook a small amount and adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Cover and refrigerate.

With that step finished, it was time to summon up the courage to debone that chicken. Interweb to the rescue! I came across this great video: Jacque Pepin making short work of deboning a chicken, then stuffing and tying it and making it look like child’s play- and I don’t mean Julia Child. Really! And what a cool technique to have in your arsenal! You have to do this!


Season the tenderloins with salt and pepper then saute them over high heat until nicely brown. Salt and pepper the inside of your bird and commence stuffing. I started with the legs and squished the filling down inside of them really well then I filled up the cavity, laying the tenderloins and some strips of ham down the center of the forcemeat and tried to close it up so it would look like a chicken. I took some of the forcemeat out and tried again. And again and again until I was finally able to get the bird totally wrapped around the filling and start tyin’ her up. It’s easier than it sounds so just watch Jacque and obey! “If it won’t fit, force it” will not actually work here in spite of the name. I finally had to accept that all of my forcemeat wasn’t going to fit in that bird; it just depends on the size of your chicken. It did make great meatballs, though!

One nice, neat chicken package!

I browned all of the bones that I had so carefully removed- even those cute little lollipops I made out of the wings just to see if I could. Then I turned them into the most beautiful stock using Michael Ruhlman’s low and slow technique. Fast forward to the next day after work and I have great chicken stock that I have degreased, a beautifully stuffed, beautifully raised chicken and I am ready to see Charcutepalooza Project #9 to the end.

I preheated the oven to 325°, salted and peppered the chicken then gave it a generous butter massage. About a cup of that stock with a little extra sprinkle of thyme and it was ready for the oven. Roast until the internal temperature is 150°, basting frequently. If it starts getting too brown, tent with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 15 or 20 minutes while your assembled family and friends hover because it’s now about 8 PM and everyone is ravenous! (This also gives you time to find the camera for the requisite pictures.)

Requisite picture

Heck with tur-duck-en, we have a cow-pig-en!

It took about an hour and a half to cook so I had plenty of time to work on my veggies. I decided that I wanted to serve it with something easy with pretty straightforward flavors. Since I had one of these:

Fresh out of the garden!

I thought I’d julienne it and make zucchini “spaghetti”. A little olive oil and garlic, salt and pepper in a nice hot saute pan is all you need then just top it off with some freshly grated Parmesan. If one squash is good, two’s even better, right? I had a nice little butternut squash that some friends gave me from their garden and a great, easy recipe that I had been dying to try that I adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi.

Herb-Crusted Butternut Squash

1 1/2  pounds butternut squash, peeled, seeded and sliced into 1/2-inch slices

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

3 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs

6 tablespoons parsley, very finely chopped

2 1/2 teaspoons thyme, finely chopped (or substitute 1 tsp dried)

1 tablespoon lemon zest, grated

1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced, about 2 large cloves


black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil , plus extra to brush the squash with

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place squash slices on greased baking sheet, parchment or Silpat (my preference). Brush the slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Combine the remaining ingredients with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix well. Pat the crust mixture on the squash, covering generously. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until just tender and the crust is golden brown. If the crust begins to darken, cover loosely with foil and continue baking until squash is tender.

Even though the work can be broken up over several days and it’s totally worth the effort, I can’t exactly say that this is an ideal work-night dinner. I will definitely do it again- I’m thinking Thanksgiving. Cow-pig-key anyone?