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Author Notes: My drummer friend Leo and I are wanna-be chefs. Occasionally we get together and come up with meals we would serve in our pretend fancy restaurant. We love getting out the Larousse Gastronomique and putting ourselves through our own cookery school. We had so much fun shopping for the sweetbreads at one of London's best butchers, and I chuckled to myself on the tube as I travelled home next to the unsuspecting commuters with cow glands in my handbag. Sweetbreads are delicious - so soft in texture yet very savoury and meaty. The Perigueux sauce made of mushrooms, madeira and the best veal stock you can find (or make) is a complete cooking game changer. It ties this dish together and rounds the flavours off nicely. Even though it appears the chicken could risk taking 2nd place with the other big flavours here, it actually really shines through with it's succulence and is only complimented by the others. I think this is worthy of best chicken dish.
*note: in the UK it is generally seen an acceptable practice to eat veal again... The main reason being that only the male calves are used for meat, and these calves are to be killed anyway as only the female adult cows are wanted for dairy. So it is actually the best practice to eat veal and therefore not be wasteful. I don't know if this issue has been been raised much in America. —Becky Gilhespie
For the Perigueux Sauce
- 2 cups very good quality veal stock (should be clear and gelatinous when chilled)
- 1 Shallot
- 1 teaspoon Butter
- 1 1/2 cups Madeira
- a few slices of truffle, if you have. We didn't have so used 4 Morel mushrooms
- 1/2 clove of garlic
- pinches pepper and salt
- Finely chop the shallot and garlic and put them in a saucepan with the madeira. Bring to a boil and then turn down to simmer until the madeira has reduced by a half. Add the veal stock, bring to the boil again, lower heat to a low boil and reduce by half again.
- Add the truffle/morels, the butter and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and set aside until ready to serve.
For the Ballotine of Chicken with Veal Sweetbreads
- 2 boneless chicken breasts
- 4 ounces veal sweetbreads
- 2 Morel mushrooms, hydrated (if dried) and chopped
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1/2 clove of garlic, chopped
- pinches salt and pepper
- 1 small handful of flat parsley, finely chopped
- Make sure the sweetbreads do not have their covering of thick membrane. If they do, just parboil them for 1 minute, leave to cool, then cut and peel off the membrane.
- Saute the sweetbreads, garlic and shallots in half of the butter until lightly brown, about 5 minutes. Roughly chop and mix with the mushrooms and parsley, add salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
- Put each breast of chicken between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Pound the chicken with a saucepan or rolling pin until very thin all over. Take away the plastic and season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Spread half of the sweetbread mixture onto each chicken breast, then roll tightly into a sausage shape. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap, twisting the ends as tightly as possible.
- Poach the chicken breasts in their wrappings for 20 minutes in a pot of just simmering water. Take out and let cool slightly.
- Unwrap the chicken, then fry in a hot pan with the remainder of the butter, until coloured all over.
- Reheat the Perigueux sauce.
- To serve, cut each chicken breast on a diagonal, then cover with sauce and scatter the mushrooms around the plate. Serve with side dishes of your choice.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Chicken