Lockdown Ballotines

I’m a bit mean to chicken. I unkindly consider it a ‘weekday meat’, a cheap filler for fajitas and supermarket curry mixes for when we don’t want to put too much effort into dinner. Since forgoing meat in the week, meanness has turned to neglect; with the exception of a roast chicken maybe every other month, we almost never have chicken anymore.

However, my attitude towards chicken is perhaps unjust. With the right cut and a little bit of time and attention, chicken can be incredibly tasty. A perfect example is these Parma-ham wrapped ballotines from Great British Chefs which are wonderfully flavoursome and deceptively simple to make.

We ate these with a side of dauphinois potatoes, which I worried might be a bit too creamy with the addition of creme fraîche at the end of the recipe, but that wasn’t the case at all.

Ingredients (Serves 2)

4 chicken thighs, deboned
4 slices of parma ham
16-ish dried apricots
150 ml white wine
600 ml vegetable stock
5 round shallots, halfed
8 button mushrooms, halfed
1 clove garlic, chopped
Handful spinach leaves
Dollop creme fraîche

Method

  1. Prepare the ballotines by wrapping two dried apricots in each thigh, and then take your Parma ham and wrap it around the chicken. Now wrap the Parma parcel in clingfilm and put in the fridge for a couple of hours. Wrap wrap wrap!
  2. Add a big glug of oil to a large pan and fry the ballotines over a medium heat, starting with the join in the Parma ham to seal it. (The big glug of oil is important: I didn’t use enough and the ham stuck to the pan and the ballotine started to come loose. If this happens, just use a couple of toothpicks to keep the ballotines together while they’re cooking).
  3. When the Parma ham is nice and crisped, remove the ballotines and set them on a plate.
  4. Add the shallots to the pan and fry them for a few minutes until they’re starting to brown, then add the mushrooms and garlic until they’re soft and brown too.
  5. Add the wine and let it reduce to about two thirds. When it has, return the chicken to the pan with around 300 ml of the stock. Cover and leave for 20 minutes.
  6. Add the remaining apricots, and leave for another 20 minutes, this time uncovered. By this point almost all of the stock will have evaporated, so keep adding to the stock to keep the volume in the pan at around 100 ml.
  7. Remove the ballotines and stir in the spinach and creme fraîche. Cook on low for another 5 minutes, then plate up.

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