A chicken and herb ballotine, cooked, then sliced thinly as a sandwich filling
Proper porchetta, ideally from a street food stall in the Trastevere quarter of Rome, is an unbeatable, delicious and super-tasty food. I stress here that I am not trying to reproduce this, particularly not with chicken instead of pork.
What I am proposing here, instead, is a delicious and healthier alternative, inspired by this delicious Italian food that I love so much! 🙂
This porchetta-style herby chicken is relatively simple, but a little bit fiddly to make.
Ingredients (for 2 generous portions):
- 4 Chicken thigh fillets
- A handful of herbs of your choosing (I used fresh thyme, flat-leaf parsley, sage and rosemary)
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- a sprinkling of fine sea salt
Start by finely chopping all the herbs and garlic together (I did this in my Ninja Chopper but you could do it by hand, if you are less impatient and lazy than I am).
Then use a meat hammer to flatten out the chicken thigh fillets. Season both sides of each flattened fillet with fine sea salt.
Lay the fillets out on a large piece of clingfilm, forming a large rectangle of chicken, ensuring there are no gaps, then sprinkle the chopped herbs and garlic generously over the fillets.
Using the clingfilm to help you, roll the rectangle of herb-topped chicken thigh fillets into a tight ballotine (like a large sausage shape) and tightly twist the clingfilm at both ends. If you have enough clingfilm overhang at both ends, you can bring these together into a knot. You can cook the ballotine in the clingfilm, or do what I did and further wrap it in tinfoil, also tightly twisted at both ends.
Place the ballotine into a large pan of boiling water, cover with a lid and boil for 35 minutes.
Once the ballotine is cooked, you can either leave it to cool in the clingfilm until you are ready to slice it, or if you prefer to serve it warm, you can unwrap it and cut it into thick slices or even serve it in pretty chunks. It will be almost impossible to slice thinly while it’s hot, as it will fall apart. To get lovely thin slices, leave it to cool fully, and ideally in the fridge for a few hours, before slicing it with a very sharp knife or an electric meat slicing machine (this is what I did). Some slices may still fall apart, but will taste just as delicious.
Store for 2-3 days in an airtight container in the fridge and serve either in a sandwich or plated up with a salad. Enjoy!