Jambonette de Volaille

This is a classic French dish and really is just a stuffed chicken leg. When totally finished, the shape resembles a small ham, which is where the name jambonette comes from. This recipe may look time-consuming, but it is very straightforward and worth every effort. The jambonette eats well with Braised Butter Beans Ratatouille, or Tomato and Onion Flavoured Gravy.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 225 g (8 oz) pig’s caul, soaked in cold water for 24 hours (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

For the Stuffing

  • 225 g (8 oz) button mushrooms, minced or finely chopped
  • 2 small chicken breasts, skinned
  • 50 g (2 oz) fresh spinach, stalks removed, blanched and drained
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 smoked bacon rashers, rinded and finely diced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • A few fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 100 g (4 oz) oyster mushrooms (optional), sliced
  • 25 g (1 oz) unsalted butter
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 egg

Method

Firstly, the chicken legs must be boned. Lay the leg, skin side down, and cut along the thigh bone only. Scrape down the bone towards the joint and the thigh meat will start to fall from the bone. Continue to scrape until the bone is free of any meat. Keep the point of the knife close to the knuckle joint and cut round carefully. The joint will now be clean. Continue the same process and scrape down to the next joint. At this point, the bone can be broken or cut and the leg will be boned. Repeat the same process for all the legs, just leaving the knuckle on the end of each one.

To make the stuffing, heat the minced mushrooms on their own in a pan until they become totally dry. Allow to cool. Mince or finely chop the chicken breasts with the blanched spinach then mix into the mushrooms and chill in the fridge. Heat the onion, bacon, garlic, basil and oyster mushrooms, if using, in the butter for a few minutes until softened, then allow to cool. Add to the chicken and mushroom mixture, season with salt and pepper and mix in the egg.

Fill the boned legs with the stuffing, filling them enough to re-shape into a chicken leg, and folding the skin and meat under to seal the leg. They can now be wrapped in pig’s caul, if using, or simply use wooden cocktail sticks to hold the legs together. Leave the legs to rest for at least 1 hour in the fridge to set, then they will be ready to roast.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.

Fry the legs on the curved side in the olive oil in a flameproof baking pan until golden brown then turn in the pan and cook in the pre-heated oven for 20–25 minutes.

Serve the hot butter beans or ratatouille on to hot plates. Cut the jambonette into 4–5 slices and arrange on the beans or vegetables and serve with the tomato and onion sauce poured around.

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