Chicken Breasts with Smoked Gelée

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Yield:



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By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

In this recipe, chicken wings and backs are grilled and used to prepare a smoke-flavored gelée. The gelée can then be used to coat the poached chicken breasts. The breasts can also be grilled, but the smoke-flavored gelée will provide a less striking contrast. As in many gelée and stock recipes, use a pot that closely fits the size of the ingredients. Pack the ingredients in so as little liquid as possible is needed to cover. This renders a more concentrated stock or gelée.


split boned breasts, wings, and backs 4 chickens 4 chickens
clear brown chicken stock (see note) 6 cups 1.5 L
salt and pepper to taste to taste


  1. Poach the chicken breasts for about 8 minutes in 2 cups (500 milliliters) of the stock. They are done when they bounce back to the touch. Remove them from the stock and chill on a plate in the refrigerator.
  2. Grill the chicken wings and backs over wood coals (aromatic woods—fruitwoods, hickory, vine cuttings, and mesquite—are best).
  3. Place the grilled chicken in a close-fitting pot (a 2-quart [2 liter] saucepan is usually about right) and cover them with the remaining clear stock. (Do not use the poaching stock for the gelée, as it will be cloudy.) Bring the stock to a slow simmer for 15 minutes. Skim off any fat or froth that floats to the surface.
  4. Strain the stock first through a fine chinois and then through a chinois lined with a wet napkin or a triple layer of cheesecloth. Chill the stock in a bowl over ice or in the refrigerator until it barely starts to set. It will set on the sides of the bowl first.
  5. Place the cold chicken breasts on a cake rack placed on a sheet pan. Spoon a layer of gelée over the breasts and return them to the refrigerator for 10 minutes to give the gelée time to set. Repeat this process until there is a ¼-inch-thick (5 mm) layer of gelée on the top of each breast. It may be necessary to melt the gelée gently in the bowl from time to time by placing it over the stove or a bowl of hot water. Do not let it get too hot or it will melt the gelée already on the breasts and you will have to start over. Turn the remaining melted gelée out into a pan or plate just large enough to hold the gelée in a ¼-inch-thick (5 mm) layer.
  6. Serve the gelée-coated breasts on chilled plates. Cut the remaining gelée into ¼-inch (5 mm) cubes or just chop it randomly, like parsley, but not too fine. Use it to surround each of the breasts.


Smoked gelée can be used to coat the chilled chicken breasts, served chopped on the side, or used to construct an hure. Garniture such as diced grilled peppers, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms, or even fruits such as peaches can be incorporated into the gelée or served on the side. Avoid using tropical fruits, however, because the protease they contain will break down the natural gelatin contained in the gelée, causing it to melt.