Chicken galantine is a truly refined French creation. Dustin got confused and called it “chicken guillotine.” Was it because he devoured it with the haste that the French beheaded Louis XVI during the Revolution? Or was it because the chicken itself had already been guillotined? Either way, during three days I skinned a chicken, butchered it, made a forcemeat from the dark meat and liver, wrapped it and the breasts up in the skin, poached it in stock made of the bones, then refrigerated it overnight. The result was a cold, delicately flavored dish wrapped in rubbery chicken skin.
I’m going to be brutally honest— this thing was a pain in the ass to make. So what’s the point? Using my skills as a charcutière and all parts of the bird, I transformed a 3 pound chicken that could serve 2 or 4 people into an elegant dish that could serve about 6 to 8. This was a resourceful technique for French peasants to bust out in the olden days when meat was scarce.
As usual, I followed the recipe in Michael Ruhlman’s and Brian Polcyn’s Charcuterie. Butchering the chicken was no problem. Ever since watching this Alton Brown video, I am quite comfortable with it.
Removing the skin in one piece was intimidating. Like Eminem, I only had one shot. I followed Ruhlman’s directions closely but still ended up with a chicken skin in three pieces. It wasn’t a huge tragedy since I overlapped them together to form one piece. Then I stretched it all across a sheet pan, froze it for an hour, and scraped the fat off the skin.
Next I simmered the bones and some water in my crock pot for stock. No way in hell was I going to make real stock and sit around my house for 6 hours manning the stock pot. I’m sure Ruhlman makes absolutely beautiful stock using the traditional method, but does it really matter for poaching a chicken skin-wrapped pâté? I doubt it.
Two days later I seared the chicken breasts. Then I ground up the chicken liver and meat with some pork belly, first in the meat grinder and then in the food processor to emulsify it and make it extra smooth. In went the cream, spices, and eggs whites.
Then came the moment of truth. I spread the gloppy meat paste mixture on the chicken skin, laid the breasts across it, and encased them in another layer of meat paste. Calling upon my sushi making skillz, I wrapped it relatively tightly, and tied it with twine. I stood back and admired it while finally feeling confident that my galantine would be a success.
Then I realized I don’t own a pan large enough to hold this monstrosity. Nor did I have a thermometer. I resorted to my cast iron skillet, which contained the cheesecloth-wrapped package and all the stock, but the top third of the galantine remained uncovered. I poached if for 50 minutes, turning it every ten minutes and praying that it wouldn’t dry out. Pretty scrap, I know, but these things often work out for the best.
And it did! The next day I sliced into it, and the layers were even and distinct. The flavors were outstanding, but I couldn’t handle the rubbery chicken skin texture. Like a child removing the crusts from sandwich bread, I peeled the skin off and ate the delicious filling.
The result was similar to the hot dog challenge. Making this chicken galantine was a triumph that tested my cooking skills, but I won’t trouble myself to make it again. In the future, I’ll stick to simple roast chicken with a crispy brown skin.