Saturday, May 9, 2015

Chicken Roulade, but first DEBONE the chicken!

Hi, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back and I have an interesting recipe for you. This is something I've eaten many times, even watched someone prepare twice, yet had never cooked it myself. Chicken roulade! It's always been one of my favorite dishes but I knew how much work there was to prepare it. Also, I couldn't remember the exact steps. So, when I saw this video being passed around on facebook, I thought, "NOW is the time." The video (if you don't want to click the link) is of Jacques Pepin deboning a chicken. It's actually pretty entertaining... and not just for his lovely accent.
 So, first ingredient is one whole chicken. We usually buy our fryers from a local farm but our freezer was all out of fryers and I wanted to make this for guests that night so... to the store I went! (This cost about $6, no kidding. The free range fryers are about $10 each, but it's worth it to know they're cruelty free. This one... not so much. Still tasted delicious, though!)
 So, per the video, I chopped off the wings at the join.
 Pull back the skin until the two bones are showing. I think we missed a photo here, but the next step is to pull back and remove the smaller bone.

Then peel the flesh down until the meat is at the end of the joint. Then cut at that joint. Pepin calls this the "lollipop" and he says it in his cute little French way. My children were calling this the loh-lee-pope all afternoon. Here, they are, raw. After this, you can roll them in egg and bread crumbs and fry. I did that while the roulade was cooking.

 Now, reached to the front of the chicken and find the wishbone. Usually, commercially produced fryers have the wishbone broken during processing so we were surprised to see this one intact. Bonus! My littlest were excited to see who got the wish.
 Unfortunately, neither one of them did. I think the bone was too fresh and bendy.
 Slice the chicken down the back.
Gently peel back the skin...
 ... until you see the "oysters". (See, I'm pointing them out. )
 The chicken breasts are exposed there. Remove them from the rib cage, which is pretty simple. Lay the chicken breast on a flat surface and hold down the white tendon with a rag or your thumb. Take a sharp knife and separate the breast from the tendon. This keeps the chicken filet from having that tough and chewy part when you cook it. Discard the white tendon (looks like a ribbon, but somehow I didn't get a picture.)
Now, hold the rib cage firmly and pull until it releases from the flesh. I don't know if Jacques is stronger than I am, or if the commercial chickens are less happy to give up their bones because I was sweating. But, eventually, the rib cage was removed.
 Now, back to the chicken legs. We were working with the wings before, remember? We're going to get all the bones out. Use the handle of the knife and break the bone right at the joint. You can easily remove the bone from the other side now and there's only the joint left without breaking the skin.
 Random photo of innards. I cooked them and the dog was very happy.
 Now, we have a chicken coat, no bones, no innards. All meat and skin.
 You can wrap it up like this, tie with ribbon, and cook it like this.

I made some stuffing out of a box. I know, not fancy, but i reallllly love stuffing from a box. I don't know why. I think it's because it reminds me of feasts at my neighbor's house when I was little. My friend Barbara always made stuffing from a box and to me, it tastes like "happy days"!
While the stuffing was cooking, I rolled the low-lee-popes in eggs and bread crumbs and fried them. Hmmmmm.
 This is the finished product. Everyone looked at it and decided they would take a pass. Again, the dog was thrilled.
 When the stuffing was done, I chopped up some spicy kielbasa, peeled a head of garlic, and stuffed it in the center of the chicken.
 Now, pull the skin tight and make sure the stuffing is falling out. (Hello, Virginia's tummy! Get ready! Something tasty is coming!)
 Bake at 350F for about an hour, depending on the size of your chicken. It cooks faster because there are no bones, but if you stuff it with something raw, like sausage or anything with raw egg, you'll want to sue a meat thermometer. I didn't have twine so as it was cooking the skin started to pull back. I kept basting it to keep it moist, but I knew it wouldn't be a perfect circle like it would have been if I tied it closed like Jacques does.
 Here's a shot of the sliced roulade. It's really one of the most delicious dishes and I was glad I made it. I think if I deboned chickens more often, the first part would go a lot faster, but this time it took about 30 minutes prep (which may have included a few trips back to review the video). Restaurant roulade is much tidier, and usually has a lovely "jellyroll" appearance but I was happy with how this turned out. Bonus- my house smelled amazing!

Sliced Fuji apples and orange sections were the perfect accompaniment (although a friend of mine promises that baby spinach salad and blue cheese dressing is the best pairing).
 So, I hope you enjoyed this little foray into deboning a chicken. Next week, maybe we'll debone something else!
Until next time!


  1. Virginia, great pics of the deboning process! That is work, and even with practice, it's work.

    I love roasting chicken, and I love stuffing and sausage, and I'll probably cheat and just stuff the bird because I am a BIG CHEATER but I can see how much fun this is, to have the whole thing done in an edible package!

    I remember reading in a book (Little House, maybe? Farmer Boy? Not sure) how they made chicken pie for Sundays with the bones still in the chicken.... and then the bones kind of fell out of the pie as you served up this big chicken-and-biscuits meal. Now you know not all the bone pieces fell out and I hate to eat a bite of food and chomp down on bone, so I remove bones first.... But that's easy, after simmering. This is an art form! Thank you for sharing it!

    And nobody ate the lollies, huh? So funny! And my Dave would fight your dog (I'm still loving how you came to have this dog, btw) for those gizzards and liver.

    Awesome stuff!

    1. I want to be on the chicken and stuffing and gravy and biscuits diet! I made this dish about three weeks ago and now I want to make it again!! But it's definitely a feasting dish, not just for the prep time. Sigh. I could live on stuffing! If only it was health food!
      The interesting thing about not cooking it with the bones, and the pulling the bones out is that the gristle is left and that has to be removed , too. I noticed with this method, it really is just meat and skin. I'm tempted to try a turkey now!

  2. When we got our dog as a puppy, she'd only been fed livers. We thought that was the way every puppy was treated so fed her that the first day we had her. That was also the last day we cooked liver.

    I know I'd debone a finger so will just leave it to you. And if you had that in a restaurant, it would be $35 a serving just for the labor!

    But so yummy looking and envying the smell.

    1. I have to confess, I was going to eat it myself because I read that liver is iron rich. So I cooked it and sliced it and held it up to my face to take a bite.... nope! Not gonna happen! I know people say liver and onions is a great dish but I think I'll just keep taking my iron pills.
      But yes, Mr. Dogger was happy!

    2. Lol on the finger deboning!
      My husband kept saying that he thought Jacques' knives had to be sharper than ours. He made it look so easy. I think our knives weren't really up to the task.

  3. WOW. Very impressive. Looks very yummy and makes me feel like a total sleazo for all my fast cooking.

    1. Hm. Tina Sleazo Radcliffe. Has a nice ring to it!
      Seriously, I think my husband cooks much more than I do. And he's better at it. He can cook up a meal from four ingredients from the garden. I need seventeen spices, a pound of meat, and a recipe with an instructional video.

  4. I am so cracking up at low lee popes!! :) I love Jacques. Used to watch him all the time on TV ages ago. I'll have to look him up on Youtube!

    I am also a HUGE Stovetop Stuffing fan! :)

  5. I love him, too! My favorite videos are Jacques Pepin and Julia Child together. She would argue with the Frenchman over French cooking! Too funny. Those two in one kitchen is better than any reality TV. :)