I’ve been fascinated by galantines for a long time. Maybe because this attractive and tasty dish seems almost magical. Of course, compared to the fancy arrangements of food depicted in books from the 19th century, the galantines seen today are relatively tame. But still, when placed alongside the platters of food that adorn our modern banquets, galantines can easily steal the show.
Besides the galantine, there’s another dish in French cuisine with a similar sounding name: ballotine. Judging from some of the recipes I’ve found, the two terms can refer to the same dish. Recipes with either name usually are for a forcemeat cooked inside another meat. Some books make a distinction between the two dishes, but some only describe one or the other. Prosper Montagné goes as far as stating that the term ballotine “should only apply to a piece of butcher’s meat, boned, stuffed, and rolled, but it is in fact also applied to various dishes which are actually galantines.” [Montagné, Prosper. Larousse Gastronomique. Translated by Patience Gray, Nina Froud, Maud Murdoch, Barbara Macre Taylor. Edited by Nina Froud, Charlotte Turgeon. New York: Crown Publishing, Inc., 1961. Originally published as Larousse Gastronomique (Paris: Librarie Larousse) in 1938. Page 439.]
If all the definitions I found, both actual and implied, are averaged, the result would be something in the order of a galantine being a dish made from boned poultry or meat that is stuffed with a forcemeat, pressed into a cylindrical shape, and poached in an aspic-producing stock. The galantine is served cold, coated with the aspic. Many of the recipes for ballotines I found would also fit this definition. Others use all the meat from the animal being boned in the forcemeat so the outer wrapping is nothing more than the skin or just a sheet of barding fat. Also, some ballotines are served hot or braised rather than poached. The more recipes I read, the more jumbled the definitions became in my mind.
The origin of the two terms is also not conclusive. The term galantine may have evolved from the Old French term for “jelly,” but early spellings of galantine include garentine and galatina, which do not appear to be derivatives of the word. Prosper Montagné proposed that the term evolved from the Old French word for chicken: geline or galine. I find this odd because the earliest galantine recipes were for eel served in a jelly made from the poaching bouillon mixed with eel blood and seasoned with ginger, cloves, grains of paradise, cinnamon, nutmeg, and long pepper. Early galantines were not stuffed chicken. Two hundred years later, when the term galantine appears in a cookery book in its final spelling, the recipe is for a suckling pig stuffed with forcemeat.
The term ballotine is more straightforward. It is derived from the French noun ballot, bundle, and the verb ballotter, to roll around. Montagné describes a ballotine as being “a piece of meat, fowl, game, or fish, which is boned, stuffed, and rolled into the shape of a bundle.” The term is much newer. It starts to appear in cookery books in the 19th century.
Although not out of the range of a home cook, galantines have traditionally been the product of professional kitchens. A galantine is not a last-minute dish. Depending on what items the chef has on hand and what has to be specially prepared, the finished dish can take up to a week to prepare.
The following recipe is an amalgamation of many of the recipes for galantines encountered in my research. It is presented below with comments specific to each part of the recipe. Clicking on any comment will hide all the comments. Pressing the C key will cause the comments to reappear. Clicking on a picture will enlarge it.
1 large (about 2-1/2 kg)
leaf gelatin, as required
Dijon-style mustard [optional]
Ingredients for Forcemeat:
curing salt (0.6% sodium nitrite)
ground white pepper
dry white wine
Additional Ingredients for Stuffing:
pickled pork tongue (langue à l’écarlate)
boiled ham (jambon au torchon)
shelled and peeled whole pistachio nuts
Ingredients for Poaching Liquid:
veal foot, split lengthwise and sawed into a number of pieces
carrots, cut into chunks
onions, cut into chunks
leek, white part with some green, cut into chunks
homemade chicken stock [optional]
Ingredients for Clarifying Aspic:
egg whites, well beaten
about 150 grams
finely shredded green cabbage
Ingredients for Decoration:
vegetables suitable for decorating the finished galantine
Cut the veal, pork meat, and pork fat into 1-cm square strips and place in a non-reactive bowl. Combine the curing salt, pepper, and quatre épices
and add the mixture to the meats. Mix well. Transfer meat to a plastic bag and refrigerate overnight.
Grind the seasoned meat and fat together through a 3-mm grinder plate. Add the wine and mix thoroughly until the fat starts to smear. Wrap tightly with plastic film and refrigerate overnight.
Bone the chicken. Click for detailed boning instructions
Spread the chicken out on a work surface, skin side down, so it forms a rectangular shape and the meat extends with a slight margin to the edge of the skin. Arrange the legs and wings, under the skin, so the meat is evenly thick over the surface of the chicken.
Spread about two-thirds of the forcemeat mixture over the chicken meat. Press the forcemeat over the chicken to even out the surface. Leave a 2 to 3-cm margin at the edges of the skin created by the original cut along the back.
Cut the meat for the stuffing additions into 3-mm thick slices. Arrange all the stuffing additions over the forcemeat in a single layer, allowing a slight margin at the edges of the forcemeat. Press the additions firmly so they adhere to the forcemeat.
Carefully spread the remaining forcemeat over the stuffing additions. Press this last layer to smooth out its surface.
Gather the ends of the chicken skin that were originally along the back of the carcass and carefully fold the package until a cylinder. Using a long metal skewer, truss the loose ends of the cut skin together to snugly encompass the forcemeat.
Place the entire “package” on a piece of moistened, unbleached muslin that is large enough to completely enclose the stuffed chicken. Roll the cloth tightly around the meat to form a long sausage shape. Using strips of muslin, tie the bundle along its length to prevent it from unwrapping during poaching.
Reach inside the end of the cloth wrapping and pull out the metal skewer. Gather each end of the cloth, twist tightly to seal, and tightly tie the twisted cloth with a piece of cotton string.
Place the chicken bundle in a large stock pot. Add all the poaching liquid ingredients plus the reserved chicken bones and the reserved pork skin, if applicable. Add sufficient water to the pot to cover the galantine. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until the galantine reaches a temperature of about 70 °C (155 °F), about 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Skim and discard any scum that floats to the surface.
When the galantine is cooked, remove it from the pot and set aside for 15 minutes to cool slightly. Continue simmering the poaching liquid for another couple of hours to further enrich it.
Cut the ties holding the cloth around the galantine. Unwrap the galantine. Rinse the cloth and rewrap the chicken tightly. Wrap some sushi mats, a thin flexible cutting board, or other stiffening device around the galantine and tie into place. Twist the ends of the cloth and tie with string. Set the bundle in a refrigerator until completely cooled, about 12 hours.
When the stock is done, remove and discard the solid ingredients. Strain the stock through a fine strainer. Refrigerate until completely cooled, about 12 hours.
Using a small spoon, carefully scrape away the fat that has congealed at the top of the stock and discard. Place the stock in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce by about half to two-thirds. There should be about a liter of stock remaining. Transfer the stock to a smaller saucepan and set aside to cool slightly.
Combine the clarification ingredients and mix into the stock. Place the saucepan over medium heat and gently bring the mixture to a full boil. Do not stir the contents. After the stock has boiled for a few minutes and the cabbage is thoroughly encrusted with cooked egg white, remove the saucepan from the heat and gently move the cabbage away from one edge of the saucepan with a spatula. If the stock below the cabbage is still cloudy, return the saucepan to the heat for a few more minutes.
When the stock is clear, pour the entire contents of the saucepan through a strainer lined with fine cheesecloth. Chill thoroughly in a refrigerator.
Test the clarified stock for stiffness. If it gives way easily when pressed with a finger, more gelatin is required. If it is very stiff and rubbery, the aspic is ready and no further gelatin is required.
If more gelatin is required, gently heat the stock just until it melts and feels warm to the touch. Soften a couple of sheets of gelatin in cold water. When soft, drain well and dissolve the gelatin in the warm stock. Chill a small amount of the stock to test its stiffness.
Remove all the wrapping from the galantine and discard. Set the galantine on a rack placed over a baking sheet. Keep chilled until needed.
Place about half of the aspic in a metal bowl. Prepare two other bowls large enough for the first metal bowl to fit inside: in the first, fill the bottom with ice and cold water; in the second, fill the bottom with warm water from the tap. Place the metal bowl with the aspic in the warm water bath and stir until all the aspic is dissolved. Transfer the metal bowl to the ice water bath and cool the aspic, stirring constantly, until it becomes syrupy. If it starts to form lumps, reheat slightly in the warm water bath.
Remove the galantine, with its rack and baking sheet, from the refrigerator. Brush a layer of aspic over the entire galantine and return it to the refrigerator to harden.
When the first layer of aspic is hardened, repeat with a second layer.
Prepare the vegetables for decorating the galantine.
Apply the vegetables for decoration. For larger pieces, brush the pieces with aspic before applying, using the aspic like glue. For small pieces, apply fresh aspic to the galantine surface and then place each piece in position. Use a toothpick or skewer to adjust the position of a piece if necessary. The fresh aspic should stiffen in place on the galantine relatively fast because of the chill of the galantine, but it also may be necessary to further chill the surface in the refrigerator from time to time.
After the decoration is complete, apply two more layers of aspic over the entire surface of the galantine to seal the decorations.
Add the reserved aspic to any remaining from the coating process and melt it in the warm water bath. When fluid, pour the aspic onto a baking sheet so it forms a depth of between 1/2 and 1 cm. Chill until solid in the refrigerator.
Prior to serving the galantine, dice the aspic chilled in the baking sheet. To do so, make a series of parallel cuts in the aspic, spaced between 1/2 and 1 cm apart. Turn the baking sheet 90° and make another set of parallel cuts, also spaced between 1/2 and 1 cm apart. Slide a spatula under the aspic to release it from the pan. Break any clumps into individual cubes.
Place the galantine on a platter. Strew the aspic around the base of the galantine. Decorate the platter with parsley.
To serve, slice the galantine into 1-cm thick slices. Place a slice on each serving plate along with some aspic. Garnish with a cornichon and a small spoonful of Dijon-style mustard.
©2004 Peter Hertzmann, Inc. All rights reserved.