Ballotine is a method of cooking and presenting meat. The term comes from the French word balle, meaning a package or bundle. And a ballotine is very literally just that – meat presented in a ‘bundle’ or package.

How to make a ballotine

To make a ballotine, meat, poultry, or fish can be used. Traditional ballotines are made from chicken or duck. Whatever meat you choose, it is essential that it is boneless and skinless, as it must be pounded and flattened. When flattened, the meat is laid out, filled with a stuffing (usually ground meat) and rolled up like a Swiss roll. Finally, kitchen string is used to tie the roulade before poaching or braising the meat. Usually, the ballotine would be cooked in a roasting tin filled with stock.

If using a whole fowl, then the meat must be deboned with the wings and legs removed. The skin, however, can remain intact. The fowl is then stuffed and rolled up with the skin on the outside to help protect the meat during cooking.

What is ballotine stuffed with?

Ballotine can be stuffed with anything, including other types of meat ground with spices, herb mousse, or vegetables like mushroom or spinach.  Traditionally, however, ballotines are stuffed with other meat that complements the main type of meat used for the dish. Complementary meats are always ground, and include sausage mince, pancetta, bacon, pork, ham, or veal.

What’s the difference between ballotine and galantine?

Ballotines and galantines are often mistaken to be the same, as they both involve meat being deboned, stuffed with ground meat, and rolled up. However, the two are very different. A galantine is often served cold, while a ballotine can be served both hot or cold. A galantine is usually cylindrical in shape, making it easier to slice. Galantines are also usually wrapped in cloth and poached in their own stock. On the other hand, ballotines can be either poached or braised, and usually served in a broth made from leftover cooking liquid.

Julia Child’s take on ballontine

Ballotine is mentioned in the culinary classic, My Life in France, by Julia Child and Alex Prudhomme. The dish is mentioned as being the pièce de résistance of her meal, a “ballontine of veal… stuffed and rolled into the shape of a log and served hot with a luscious sauce”.  Child talks readers through the preparation of the ballontine: “We prepared an elaborate veal forcemeat that included quite a generous bit of foie gras, mushroom duxelles, Cognac, Madeira, and blanched chard leaves which would be used to make a nice pattern. We then stuffed the veal with the forcemeat, tied it up ever so neatly in its clean poaching cloth…. poached [the ballotine] in the spectacular veal stock and then allowed to linger in it a while to enhance the flavour… [it was]  an immense success with its truffled sauce” — Julia Child with Alex Prudhomme. My Life in France. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 2006. Page 91-92.


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