Porchetta-style herby chicken slices

Porchetta-style chicken slices

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!

Porchetta-style herby chicken slices – Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!


Frederika’s Tartare de Boeuf au Couteau | Hand-Cut Steak Tartare

Tartare de boeuf au couteau. Image showing finely hand-chopped fillet steak with an egg yolk in the centre and small bowls containing the seasonings on the side - one with finely chopped gherkins, one with finely chopped capers and the third with finely chopped onions.

This dish is one of our favourites whenever we’re in France or Luxembourg and it’s far easier to re-create at home than you might think. The words ‘au couteau’ refer to the steak being hand-cut with a knife.

The most important element is the quality of the meat. You need good quality, fresh, tender and lean fillet steak for that melt-in-the-mouth taste. This actually makes it a good low-fat meal, too, especially if you accompany it with a side salad (though we do love to go traditional and have ‘frites’ – chips / fries – on the side). It is also a very filling meal due to the high protein content.

There is no cooking involved, but you do need to allow yourself an hour or so to patiently hand-slice the meat. Do not be tempted to bypass this step by buying minced meat or putting your meat through an electric mincer.

It is up to you which exact seasoning ingredients you want to add. In Parisian restaurants, they often serve it ready seasoned with egg, gherkins, capers, onions and tomato ketchup and/or Worcester sauce. Frederika can’t stand either of those last two ingredients and, although she will eat it ready seasoned in restaurants if they won’t serve it any other way, she usually asks for them to bring the ingredients and let her season the meat herself.

The recipe we share here is how Frederika seasons hers – feel free to experiment with the additional seasonings and decide what you prefer for yourself.

Important note about the capers:

We always use capers preserved in salt, not vinegar. These are quite tricky to get in the UK, but it’s worth persevering to find the right ones, as capers preserved in vinegar have a very different taste. Though if you do prefer a more acidic balance to the dish, feel free to experiment and use ones in vinegar.

We tend to find the capers preserved in salt either on Amazon (sometimes) or on Italian grocery websites such as Nifeislife.

Tartare de boeuf au couteau. Image showing finely hand-chopped fillet steak with an egg yolk in the centre and small bowls containing the seasonings on the side - one with finely chopped gherkins, one with finely chopped capers and the third with finely chopped onions.
Tartare de Boeuf au Couteau | Hand-Cut Steak Tartare

Ingredients (for 4 people)

  • 3-4 good quality lean fillet steaks (it depends how much meat you want to eat!)
  • 4-6 cocktain gherkin
  • a handful of capers (see important note about capers, above)
  • one small onion
  • 4 egg yolks
  • sea salt flakes (or fine, whichever you prefer) – to taste
  • freshly-ground black pepper – to taste


Cutting the meat – the most important step:

Using a good quality sharp knife (this is the one we like to use), finely chop the steaks. Allow a good hour to do this.

Cut thin strips of steak, about 2mm thick, then lay each strip down and cut it into thin strips lengthways, about 2mm each again.

Once you have a good few ‘matchstick’ style fine strips of beef, bunch them together and cut them horizontally so you get tiny ‘minced’ pieces of beef, about 2mm squared.

Preparing the other ingredients:

Finely chop – separately – the capers, gherkins and onion, and place them into small serving dishes/bowls.

Separate the eggs and keep each yolk separate.

To serve:

Separate the finely-cut meat into four equal portions and place them onto plates as small mounds with a crater at the centre of each.

Place one egg yolk at the centre of each mound.

Serve everything else at the table, so each person can add as many of the seasonings as they wish to their own dish (alternatively, each plate could have small mounds of onion, gherkins and capers next to the mound of meat). All ingredients then need to be mixed well into the meat, which is best eaten straight away.

Tartare de boeuf au couteau – hand-cut steak tartare | Gloriously Simple, Gloriously Good!