January 21, 2011

chicken ballotine with tomato sauce and couscous

last night i just couldn t think what i would make for dinner. usually, especially on school nights (when i need to be there on time), i try to make one-pot meals, quick and easy.

but yesterday i did have some time, and it had been a while since i d made something with chicken, so i came up with this.

i call it a ballotine, let me check if i was correct, because i just made up this recipe with what i had on hand... just checked, it is what it is, some might just call this stuffed chicken breasts though... oh well.

here s how i made mine:


for the ballotine:
2 chicken breasts, de-boned and skinned
100 gr ricotta cheese
1 clove garlic, crushed
300 gr young spinach
salt, pepper and nutmeg
olive oil and butter

for the tomato sauce:
4 tomatoes, cut into cubes
100 ml tomato passata
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
splash of water
splash of vermouth (i used Noilly Prat)
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar
some chopped parsley

for the couscous:
100 gr couscous
boiling water
tablespoon of butter


1. start by wilting the spinach leaves in a little olive oil, set aside to cool
2. mix the crushed garlic with the ricotta cheese, add the cooled spinach, and season with salt, pepper and some grated nutmeg
3. wrap the chicken breasts between cling-film and beat down to about 5mm thickness
4. spoon on some filling (i was able to use exactly half for one filet and half for the other) and roll into a sausage shape
5. most ballotine recipes call for the chicken to be wrapped tightly in clingfilm and poached in stock, but i wrapped mine in aluminium foil (i m sure cling would be fine too) and steamed the rolls for about 20 minutes
6. meanwhile sauté the onions and the garlic, then add the chopped tomatoes, the passata, water and vermouth, leave to simmer for about ten minutes, then season with salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar
7. for a very quick couscous, put the grains in a heatproof bowl, top up with boiling water until just covered and cover with clingfilm, leave to swell for about 10 minutes, then fork it through until the grains are separated (at this point you could add herbs, chopped onion, tomato, cucumber... but i kept it simple by just adding some salt, pepper and chopped parsley)
8. when the chicken has finished steaming (or poaching), unwrap and flash it in a pan with some butter (i do this because i think otherwise it looks a bit anaemic, the choice is yours)
9. plate up and enjoy!

ps. yesterday i did steam the chicken for a bit too long (i gave it more than half an hour) so it came out a little dry, but 15-20 minutes should suffice, depending on the thickness of the ballotine

now i have to start thinking about what to make for tonight! never-ending story, but i think about food all the time anyway ;-)

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