Peeled poussin

Pot-roasted ballotine of coquelet with caramelised onion and tarragon jus

Chicken today. Small chicken. Poussin or coquelet. The dish was Ballotine de Coquelet Poélér, Purée d’Oignon Caramélisée, Jus à l’Estragon. A pot-roasted ballotine of coquelet with caramelised onion and tarragon jus. The challenge? Not only to debone a small whole chicken but to keep all the skin in one piece and without any rips. When we got into the kitchen, my partner in crime (Mr Fire Gun) called chef over and said in his own inimitable way, “I’ve forgotten how to peel a chicken”. Lol. Brilliant. Now I will always know it as peeling a chicken.

Poussin meat off the carcass. Legs and wings still have to be removed

To cut a long story short, after the usual bird prep, an incision was made along the back bone. One breast free, leg dislocated, up and over the breast bone. Second breast free, second leg dislocated. The breasts were lifted away from the skin. The legs were pulled out of the skin and the remaining tube of skin butterflied to maximise the area of skin. Basically you peel a chicken by peeling your way around the back and chest. Not too difficult, actually but protecting the skin requires care.

A farce was made to fill the ballotine. Minced pork, minced pork fat, and the leg meat duly minced with some bionic knife motion. Plus a parade of fresh breadcrumbs and egg, and mushroom duxelles. The skin was stretched out on cling film. The breasts and fillets were centred, then topped with a large sausage of the farce. The whole lot was rolled, wrapped and tied and put in the fridge to firm up.

Later, the cling film was removed and the ballotine tied up with butcher’s cord. The ballotine was seared in oil with the bones, carcass and mirepoix. A lid went on and into the oven for 20 minutes. The ballotine was removed and left to rest under foil.

Mushroom trimmings were added to the bones and mirepoix to get some colour. The solids were decanted and the pan degreased then deglazed with white wine. Back in with the bones and vegetables plus tarragon stalks and stock. You know the drill. Infuse. Skim. Reduce. Some fresh tarragon was added during the reduction to give a kick to the jus.

Onions were caramelised in butter and then puréed. Ambrosia! Carrots were cored, cut into barrels and glazed. Mangetout was simply sliced diagonally and tossed quickly in butter and a spoonful of water.

Snazzy chicken dinner. What’s not to like? It smelled particularly appetising.

Chef made super-stylish salmon in demo. Pavé de Saumon en Basse Température, Betterave et Crème de Raifort. Salmon steak cooked at low temperature with beetroot and a horseradish cream.

The salmon was trimmed and squared up then cut into 150g steaks. The skin was removed from each steak along with the blood line or brown meat. The skin was scraped clean, rubbed with oil and salt then baked in the oven until crispy. The steaks were marinated in a mixture of rock salt and sugar for 10 minutes, rinsed, dried and returned to the fridge.

Salmon steaks ready for steaming

Cleaned salmon skin ready for baking

Baby beetroots were washed and trimmed. The top ridge around the stalk was scraped with a knife to make peeling easier. The edges caused by the peeler were scraped away with a knife to restore the natural contours. The beetroot were cooked in salted boiling water with dill stalks. Of course, you could always peel the beetroot after cooking.

Beetroot juice—amazing stuff, deep purple—was reduced to a syrup consistency. It required some skimming.

Sugar and water was brought to the boil. Walnuts were added and the liquor reduced to a syrup. The syrup was drained away and the walnuts left to air dry before being deep fried at 170C. They were sprinkled with a little salt as soon as they came out of the fryer.

Horseradish was peeled and grated, then mixed with whipping cream, lemon juice and salt. The lemon juice firmed up the cream in the fridge though it did require a quick whisk later on to reach the right consistency to quenelle.

The steaks were steamed in the oven until they reached 52C, patted dry, then charred for plating.

A simple vinaigrette was made with sherry vinegar and walnut oil and used to lightly dress the roasted beets and beetroot shoots.

Don’t these plates look fab?

Charred salmon with crispy skin, roast baby beetroots, a beetroot syrup, horseradish cream and caramelised walnuts

Steamed salmon steak plated differently

Steamed salmon with salmon roe

1 more lesson to go before exams. Eeeeeeh!