This easy chicken ballotine is the perfect entertaining idea, especially at Christmas time, if you don't want the cost or work of a whole turkey.
It's packed full of festive flavours, stuffed with a rich mixture of sausage meat, apricotes and walnuts, all in one neat boneless package that makes clearing up a breeze.
Easy to make a day ahead, then cook in the oven for just 30 minutes when you are ready, for stress free entertaining.
Make this all year round using the suggestions for different stuffing ingredients and create a new dish each time for a change.
Delicious cold in a sandwich or salad too.
Traditionally a ballotine is a French term for a boned poultry thigh or leg which is then stuffed. This can be a chicken, duck or other bird.
It is tied to keep its shape, and may even be sewn up to stop any stuffing from escaping.
It is cooked by poaching, braising or roasting.
This dish is quite common in France, often made with a whole duck, chicken or guinea fowl, especially at Christmas.
Often, you can buy meat that is already stuffed, but you can also find really good sausagemeat, or farcie, with fresh herbs and seasonings and often some cognac and porcini mushrooms too.
A galantine is very similar in preparation to a ballotine in that the poultry is boneless. However, a ballotine may be served hot ot cold and galantine is always served cold.
A chicken galantine could be a whole boned chicken that is stuffed and sewn or trussed together. It is then roasted and cooled then pressed like a terrine.
Typically, it is decorated with a béchamel sauce and served with aspic.
Slices of galantine are often served for the relevé course. This is like another starter normally served after a soup course.
For a roulade, the meat is flattened to an even thickness and the suffing spread in a layer.
The meat is then rolled, which creates a spiral effect when sliced, rather than the stuffing being concentrated in the middle.
There are no complicated instructions with this recipe, so once you have made it once, you can easily make it again with a different stuffing.
❤️ Why you will love this dish
- Simple to prepare.
- Easy to vary the stuffing ingredients to the time of year.
- Great for small elegant gatherings.
- No bones to deal with.
- Carves well for presentation.
- Delicious hot or cold.
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- Chicken - bonesless chicken breasts, with or without skin.
- Sausagemeat - I've used good quality pork sausages for ease. In the UK, a Licolnshire or Cumberland sausage adds great flavour. If you like a really meaty sauasage then French Toulouse sausages are delicious.
- Shallots - these have a mild amd sweet flavour compared to most onions. The long shallots are slightly easier to peel than the round ones.
- Walnuts - shelled walnut pieces, as they are cheaper to buy than walnit halves.
- Apricots - dried apricots.
- Sage - fresh sage if possible.
- Salt - cooking or kosher salt.
- Pepper - freshly ground black pepper.
- Oil - vegetable or olive oil for frying the shallot.
- Proscuitto - totally optional.
The printable recipe card with full ingredient quantities and instructions can be found at the bottom of the article.
- frying pan or skillet
- sharp knife
- chopping board
- roasting dish
- mixing bowl
- pastry brush
Start by making the stuffing for the chicken ballotine.
Peel and finely chop the shallot and the sage.
Roughly chop the walnuts and cut the apricots into small pieces.
Put a teaspoon of the oil in the frying pan over a medium heat.
Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes or until softened.
Place the chicken breasts smooth side down on a chopping board.
Use a sharp knife to open out the fillet one side. Make another small slit on the other side.
This creates a pocket for the stuffing to sit in.
Slice down the length of the sausages and use a spoon to scrape out the meat.
Put the sausage meat, apricots, walnuts, sage, shallots and half the seasoning into a mixing bowl.
Combine the mixture.
Divide the stuffing into 4 sausage shapes and place on the chicken breasts.
Arrange 3 pieces of string under each chicken breast.
Tie with a simple knot to fasten and trim the string ends.
It may look like the stuffing will try to escape, but it will firm up as it cooks.
⏲️ Baking Time
Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / 160 FAN / Gas 4.
Arrange the chicken ballotines in an oven proof dish.
Brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle over the rest of the salt and pepper.
Roast for 30 - 35 minutes.
💭 Top Tip
- The juices from the chicken should run clear, when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat, to be sure that the chicken is cooked.
- If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should be 75ºC / 165ºF.
I like to serve little bacon rolls with the chicken.
Roll up slices of the proscuitto and secure with cocktail sticks.
Place them around the chicken after 15 minutes of cooking time.
Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes to let the juices settle before serving.
Don't forget to remove the string for your guests!
🥗 Side Dishes
For a festive roast try some of these side dishes.
- Easy Roast Potatoes
- Confit Potatoes
- Crispy Potatoes Pavé
- Yorkshire Pudding
- Roast Savoy Cabbage
- Celeriac Purée
- Chateau Potatoes
- Honey Roast Carrots
- Cavolo Nero Kale
- Whole Roasted Cauliflower Cheese
- Honey Roasted Swede
- Leeks in White Sauce
- Sage - if you only have dried sage use 1 teaspoon or try using parsley or tarragon.
- Turkey ballotine - this is another easy recipe using a turkey breast
- Bacon wrapped chicken breast - use streaky bacon, proscuitto or serrano ham to wrap the chicken before securing with string.
There are so many stuffing variations depending on the time of year.
Add a a tablespoon of sherry or brandy to the shallots and let it bubble for a few minutes to add extra richness.
Use a selection of these ideas, chopped and added to the sausage meat.
- Bacon - use lardons or chopped bacon cooked with the shallots.
- Dried cranberries
- Mushrooms - soften with the shallots.
- Cooked and peeled chestnuts
- Sliced black olives
- Porcini - I also like to use rehydrated dried mushrooms, such as porcini, then chop and add them to the sausagemeat. They add a huge amount of flavour.
- Refrigerator - cool, cover and keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezer - wrap well and freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator.
- To reheat - enjoy cold or wrap in foil and heat in the oven at 180 C / 350 F / 160 FAN / Gas 4.
🍱 Prepare in Advance
- Prepare the chicken ballotine the day before and just bring to room temperature before cooking.
- Alternatively, prepare and freeze for up to a month. Defrost overnight in the refrigerator before cooking.
Let me know what you think in the comments or you can post a picture and tag me on Twitter @chezlereve, Instagram @chezlerevefrancais, or Facebook @chezlerevefrancais
More Christmas Recipes
- Frying pan or skillet
- sharp knife
- chopping board
- roasting dish
- Mixing bowl
- Pastry brush
- 4 chicken breasts boneless
- 200 g sausages 3 or sausage meat
- 1 shallot
- 40 g walnuts
- 60 g dried apricots
- 1 tablespoon sage fresh
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 teaspoon oil
- Peel and finely chop the shallot and the sage.
- Roughly chop the walnuts and cut the apricots into small pieces.
- Put the oil in the frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes or until softened.
- Place the chicken breasts smooth side down on a chopping board. Use a sharp knife to open out the fillet one side. Make another small slit on the other side.
- Slice down the length of the sausages and use a spoon to scrape out the meat. Put the sausage meat, apricots, walnuts, sage, shallots and half the seasoning into a mixing bowl and combine.
- Divide the stuffing into 4 sausage shapes and place on the chicken.
- Arrange 3 pieces of string under each chicken breast. Tie with a simple knot to fasten and trim the string ends.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C / 350 F / 160 FAN / Gas 4.
- Arrange the chicken ballotines in an oven proof dish. Brush with the remaining oil and sprinkle over the rest of the salt and pepper.
- Roast for 30 - 35 minutes.
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes to let the juices settle before serving.
Disclaimer: The nutritional information provided is approximate and is calculated using online tools. Information can vary depending on various factors, but we have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible.
Detailed instructions for this recipe, including step by step photographs, hints and tips, can be found in the main article.
More Christmas recipes
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat.
- Wash hands after touching raw meat.
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods.
- Never leave cooking food unattended.
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds.
- Always have good ventilation when using gas.
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What a fabulous festive centre piece this made. The apricot and walnut stuffing was delicious.
The filling is so savory and flavorful. Definitely a hit!
I made this chicken for dinner last night and it was amazing! Packed with flavor and surprisingly easy!
I love the stuffing you've used in this recipe. Stuffing always makes me think of Christmas and this recipe looks like it would be a great alternative to turkey, which I admit I'm not so keen on. Going to give this a try!
I didn't change a single thing and this is definitely a 5-star recipe! I made it for just the two of us but this could be a company dinner made to impress!
I love that this can be made ahead! So handy. And such great flavors in it. A special way to serve up chicken.
I made this for dinner last night and what a show stopper it was! Will definitely be making it again.
what an amazing stuffing! - This is definitely going on my table for my New Years Day brunch!
This is so good. Such a great alternative to turkey!
I love how flavorful this is!! I am sure this will quickly become a favorite at my house!
What a great alternative to a traditional roast. The apricot and walnut stuffing sounds delicious, looking forward to trying your recipe at the weekend.
This looks seriously amazing!! I can't wait to give it a try!
Love how easy this recipe is. Can’t wait to try it this weekend. thank you for the recipe!