Sunday, 14 April 2013

Daring Cooks April 2013 Challenge - Make No Bones About It!

Sometimes I surprise myself - in a good way - and take stock and think that I'm maybe not too bad at this cooking lark! This month's Daring Cooks' Challenge - to debone a chicken and make a ballotine - was one such occasion. But then I go and demonstrate my true culinary level by making quiche with puff pastry rather than shortcrust - oops! Puff-quiche is still in the oven, however I'm fairly sure it will have a bad case of soggy bottom.

In the meantime I shall get on with my challenge post.

For the April Daring Cooks Challenge, Lisa from Parsley, Sage and Sweet has challenged us to debone a whole chicken, using this video by Jacques Pepin as our guide; then stuff it, tie it and roast it, to create a Chicken Ballotine.

This was a challenge of the most challenging type - it essentially involved hacking apart a chicken, breaking bones, using very sharp knives, a fair amount of brute strength and some Girl Guide style knot tying to finish it all off!

However... I was so proud of the result - undeniably disproportionately proud, but proud nonetheless.

Once the amateur chicken butchery was completed (and if you fancy giving it a go, I wholeheartedly recommend the video, along with the exhortation that it really isn't as hard as you think it is going to be - just a little bit more icky!) I stuffed it with a mixture of couscous, spicy tomato paste, salami and dried apricots. No recipe - just lots of photos this time...

First step - clingfilm your laptop so you can pause / rewind the tutorial video without contaminating it with chicken goop.
My unsuspecting chicken nemesis
I've spared everyone the gory deboning-in-process shots - but here's a boneless chicken 'jacket'!
Spare stuffing
Spare stuffing converted into mini couscous crustless quiches with the help of a couple of beaten eggs
... and then true to form, I had to go and spoil it by 'serving' it fallen apart and dropped upside down on the plate!
Thanks for a very adventurous but equally satisfying challenge.

Incidentally, this is Mr E's first month participating in the Daring Cooks challenge. We're currently blogging in tandem from opposite sides of the living room. We ate the ballotine he made today for dinner - also awesome, and I hate to admit it, but neater, prettier and better carved than mine! And only using 4 ingredients (as all of his recipes do). He blogs at Hell Yeah Four Ingredient Recipes.


  1. What a great seem to have done a really good job...I'm not sure whether mine would turn out if I tried this!! It looks super tasty though and puff quiche actually sounds quite nice! :-)

  2. I love your step-by-step photos. I couldn't put up my 'bone and carnage' photos either..mainly to spare my readers lol That said, you did such a beautiful job and your post is a fun read! The couscous, spicy tomato paste, salami and dried apricot stuffing is so creative and sounds/looks delicius! Thanks so much for taking part in my challenge! I'm popping over to your husband's blog to check out his 'pretty' ballotine :)

  3. I love the couscous stuffing and your bird looks happy and yummy! It took me forever to do the whole de-boning thing too but the end product looks like it was well worth the effort. Beautiful Job!!

  4. Wow Ruth - that is super impressive!! You did such a good job.

  5. Yes I agree I was very proud of myself doing this challenge. And your final bird looks so delicious a fabulous results. Cheers from Audax in Sydney Australia. Yes the cous cous sounds super intriguing.

  6. Looks delicious... good idea to protect the laptop!!

  7. Looks great, love the couscous stuffing.

  8. Totally right to be proud of yourself! All efforts were paid off with the amazing results. You did quite a perfect job, so did your husband. Love your filling idea. Thanks for stopping by, and for your lovely comment. I hope you have a BBQ friendly day to grill a Ballotine, it was taken to a completely different level, I was surprised myself, thought it would fall apart but it didn't even after hubby accidentally cut the string haha

  9. This was a BIG chicken ! I'm sure the couscous stuffing tasted really good, too bad it had to fall appart in the plate! Well done !

  10. Those poor chickens never saw it coming, did they?
    Great job - the stuffing idea sounds really good.

  11. Your ballotine looks fab, Ruth. The stuffing sounds delicious! I think all our pride is entirely proportionate - this challenge was intense! You & Mr E both did great jobs. :D

  12. You have every right to be proud Ruth, you did a wonderful job and I really love the stuffing.



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