French Menu – Salmon with Beurre Blanc, Chicken Ballotine with Pancetta & Sage, Crepes Suzette

Last night’s French menu for date night was filled with culinary mishaps but we still ended up eating lots of good food.

Salmon in a Beurre Blanc Sauce

For the first course I decided to make salmon in a Beurre Blanc sauce – which is a classic French emulsified butter sauce made with a reduction of vinegar, white wine and shallots into which cold butter is blended off the heat to prevent separation.  I reduced the vinegar, wine and shallots too much as the very nice Diemersfontein Pinotage we were drinking distracted me. So the Beurre Blanc turned into a plain butter sauce.  Fortunately you cannot go wrong with salmon and butter so it turned out very well in the end.

Then onto what was supposed to be the piece de resistance.   I first made a ballotine (a deboned drumstick and/or thigh stuffed with ground meat and other ingredients)  after seeing Deena Naidoo make it on the first season of Masterchef.  Deboning a chicken drumstick proved to be more difficult than the demonstrations on YouTube led me to believe and the poor chicken was massacred beyond recognition. Fortunately anything can be saved when wrapped in pancetta and the dish turned out delicious. Oddly enough I never made it again – the deboning episode was obviously more traumatic than I though.  But last night was Ballotine night.

Now you can make it with chicken breast but then it’s really just stuffed chicken.  Some people debone an entire chicken but I’m not that optimistic about my knife skills.   I got chicken legs (thigh and drumstick) this time so the deboning went better than last time – but still I was glad for the pancetta.  I based my ballotine recipe on a Gordon Ramsey recipe which you can find  here

Chicken Ballotine with Pancetta and Sage

Serves 4


4 Chicken legs (thigh and drumstick) – deboned
16 rashers pancetta

400g ground pork
1/2ts ground and roasted spices (I used coriander, cumin seeds and peppercorns)
2  cloves garlic -crushed
30ml pine nuts – roasted (pistachios will work well too)
30ml sage leaves – chopped finely


Mix the stuffing ingredients and season.

Open out the boned chicken legs and spoon in the stuffing.  Close the flaps and pull the skin across to secure, rolling the legs over to make the parcels as neat as possible.

Wrap each chicken leg in pancetta and then in foil forming a cylinder.

Roast the chicken for 15 minutes at 220C turning twice.  Turn down the oven to 180C and roast for another 30 minutes turning once.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes.  Unwrap and tip the juices on to a plate.

Heat 1 tbsp oil and a knob butter in a pan until foaming. Brown the chicken legs over a high heat on all sides, basting frequently.

Add more butter as they brown – a little at a time to keep it fresh and prevent scorching.  Take out of pan and roll in juices on plate.

Cut the meat into slices and serve.

My oven did not play along as it would not reach a temperature higher than 160C so I had to put the chicken legs back into the oven after sautéing  for another 15 minutes, slice them and then sauté them again.  Even with this setback the chicken came out beautifully tender.

The ballotine was served with a pea soup ravioli, turnip puree, beetroot jelly, sautéed oyster mushrooms and broccoli.

Liquid Pea Soup Ravioli

Trying my hand at molecular gastronomy again I attempted to make liquid pea soup ravioli based on the famous dish created by Ferran Adria at El Bulli.  Spherification  is the process of creating a gel around a liquid, forming a gelled sphere with a liquid center. You can find the recipe here. I used reverse spherification so that I could make it ahead of time.

On the left hand side is the pea soup mixed with calcium lactate. In the front is the sodium alginate bath and on the right hand side is the water bath to rinse the spheres.

Unfortunately some of my spheres broke when I tried to warm them in a warm water bath before serving – I’m presuming the water was too warm.

The beetroot jelly was very average so I won’t be posting the recipe  but the turnip puree was yummy  – you can find the recipe here.

Crepes Suzette

Dessert was Crepes Suzette which I adapted from a Bobbie Flay recipe replacing the flour with coconut flour and the sugar with xylitol to make it banting friendly.  The crepe batter did not make the light fluffy crepes envisioned so I won’t be posting the adapted recipe for now.  The flavours of the original recipe was very nice though – you can find it here.

I served it with a low carb vanilla ice cream made on a previous occasion.

We enjoyed this with a Diemersfontein Pinotage 2014 and Van Loveren’s Rhino Run Pinotage 2015


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