A twist on the much loved hunter-style chicken. This is a real crowd pleaser and a great dish to have up your sleeve when you want to impress. The Cacciatore sauce is a personal favourite and works fantastically well as a rich and decadent sauce for any roast or grilled meat.
6 Large Chicken Thighs, skinless, boneless
150g Smoked Pancetta, thinly sliced
4 Anchovy Filets, diced
A Small Onion, diced
2 Garlic Cloves, minced
30g Dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 Handful of Black Olives, de-stoned diced
1 Large Bunch of Parsley, diced
1 Large Bunch of Basil, diced
A Generous Pinch of Salt and Pepper
250g Shallots, sliced
3 Garlic Cloves, crushed
30g Dried Porcini Mushrooms, diced
2 Bay Leaves
4–5 Sprigs of Rosemary
1 Large Bunch of Oregano
70g Tomato Puree
400ml Chicken Stock
1 Generous Pinch of Salt and Pepper
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
THE CACCIATORE SAUCE
1. Place a large pan over a medium-high heat with a generous lug of olive oil. Add the shallots and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until starting to colour. Add in the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and dried mushrooms and cook for a further 3-4 minutes stirring often to avoid anything burning.
2. Add the tomato puree with a splash of the wine and mix into the pan until everything is coated with the tomato. Turn the heat up to high and pour in the wine. Cook until the liquid is reduced by two thirds, stirring occasionally to prevent anything catching on the bottom of the pan.
3. Pour in the chicken stock along with the oregano and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until reduced by half. Pass the sauce through a sieve and into another pan. Discard the contents of the sieve.
4. Shortly before serving, warm the sauce through and season to taste. Finally, whisk in a knob of butter and serve immediately.
1. To make the stuffing, place the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour over hot water to rehydrate. Place a large pan over a medium heat with a splash of olive oil and add in the onion and fry for 2-3 minutes. Now add in the garlic, anchovies, olives and rehydrated mushrooms and cook for a further 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool.
2. Once cooled, combine with the chopped herbs and crumble in the mozzarella. Tip the the stuffing onto a large chopping board and dice the mixture into a fine and even consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Open up the Chicken thighs and season all over with salt and pepper. Lay the chicken thighs out next to each other slightly overlapping in order to get an idea of how long the ballotine will be. Make sure you have a pan large enough to fit the ballotine in. If not, simply divide the ingredients in half and make two smaller ballotines.
4. On a chopping board, lay out a large sheet of cling-film and lay the rashers of pancetta across the centre of the cling-film, overlapping slightly. Make sure you have a good amount of excess cling-film across all sides of the pancetta rectangle. Now lay the chicken thighs over the pancetta, again overlapping slightly. Try and leave some excess pancetta at the top of the chicken thighs so that it will overlap once rolled. Finally, spoon the stuffing mixture across the centre of the open chicken thighs.
5. Starting with the side closest to you and using the cling-film to help, tightly roll the pancetta and chicken over itself like swiss-roll until you have a neat cylinder and the cling-film is sealed. Twist the ends of the cling-film together to fully seal the ballotine. As a precaution, I tend to double wrap the cling-film for fear of waterlogging. Finally, wrap the ballotine in a sheet of foil and twist the ends so that it looks like a cracker. This can be made well in advance.
6. To cook the ballotine, bring a large pan of water to a rolling simmer and place the ballotine parcel into the water. Simmer for 20 minutes.
7. Remove the ballotine from the water and carefully take off the foil. Gently pierce the cling-film at one end to allow any liquid to drain off and then remove the cling-film. Place a large pan over a medium-high heat with a splash of olive oil and add the ballotine. Brown on all sides until the pancetta has darkened and begun to crisp. Carefully lift the ballotine from the pan and leave to rest for five minutes.
8. Using a very sharp knife, cut the Ballotine into slices at least 3cm thick to ensure it stays warm. Serve immediately with a generous portion of the Cacciatore Sauce.