In December, when I wrote about my successful attempt of making stuffed quails, I claimed that the next time I will try to debone a bigger bird. Since it was around the Christmas time, there were lots of special holiday recipes in all the newspapers and magazines – including those of stuffed chicken. One of it – by Davide Cananzi, Executive Chef of Hotel Hindustan International in Kolkata – got my attention because there was an amazing story behind it: Davide shared the warm memories of his childhood in Tuscany where they used to make a traditional Christmas treat – Pollo ripieno bollito (stuffed chicken poached in aromatic stock). I saved the article from the newspaper but since it was a very hectic time before the New Year, I didn’t find an opportunity to make the dish.
A month later my friends from Italy mentioned in the conversation that same dish – and I realized that I shouldn’t postpone the challenge any longer. The following day I found some videos in the Internet showing how to debone a chicken, the best one being from chef Jacques Pepin who, unlike all the other cooks, suggested using as little knife as possible. Working practically with bare hands, he removed the carcass of the bird with a great grace. “It shouldn’t take you more than a minute to debone a bird” – he claimed; and though he spent more than that (just in order to explain every step in detail) you somehow realize that this man can actually complete the challenge in one minute, or even less!
After watching the video a few times I headed to the kitchen and started the work. Of course, it was difficult to do everything with such ease as Chef Pepin did (as if he had some special chicken in the video!) and, needless to say, it took me not less than 15 minutes to remove all the bones. But I wouldn’t say that it was extremely difficult – in fact, it was really convenient to work with bare hands! I for one found it much more troublesome to truss the bird (believe me, it’s a nerve-wrecking experience when you don’t have special kitchen thread!). The final dish, however, was worth all the pains. And my friend from Italy gave me a big praise by saying that I managed to nail a dish that not every cook in her country will try to make – it’s kind of challenging, after all. But that was the whole point for me: completing a new kitchen challenge! And adding another amazing dish to the recipe box, of course!
The recipe adapted from the original one by Chef Davide Cananzi
1 whole chicken
150 gm bread, crust removed
100 ml milk
1 chicken breast, minced
150 gm chicken liver
2 tbsp Tartufono
3 tbsp Parmesan, grated
2 tbsp aromatic herbs (parsley, rosemary and sage)
salt and black pepper to taste
2 carrots, chopped
2 onions, peeled
2 celery stalks, chopped
a bouquet of garni (aromatic herbs, tied together in a sachet)
1. Debone a chicken, leaving the flesh intact. Reserve the carcass.
2. For stuffing, soak the bread in milk and squeeze the milk out lightly. Process the chicken breast with the liver and the egg. Place the bread in a large bowl, add the processed mixture and other ingredients of the stuffing. Pack this into chicken and sew it up. Truss the bird.
3. For court-bouillon, put the reserved bones and the vegetables in a large pot and boil for half an hour. Discard the carcass and the vegetables, put the chicken into the bouillon and simmer for 90 minutes.
4. Cool the chicken slightly, and then remove the threads. Place the bird on a serving plate. Strain the broth and serve it on the side.
The major alternation that I made for the recipe was using Tartufono – the truffle-based bread spread. The original recipe calls for adding truffle puree to the stuffing.