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Sunday, October 13, 2013

Special Plate - Chicken Galantina

Have you gone through an occasion when you thought that you would like to do something special for a meal - be it breakfast, lunch, snack or dinner?  It was like that for me and the idea of preparing a Chicken Galantina. 

This is usually a celebratory dish, only prepared on special occasions like if one is throwing a party, or served during the noche buena feast on Christmas eve.  Ideally this is served as a cold cut with Spanish origins where it is referred to as a Galantina de Gallina.  A galantina, in other words, is a chicken that is deboned and stuffed, then poached and served cold.  In Spain, commercial versions of this dish are sold alongside Serrano hams.  Traditionally, though, when it was usual for Spanish rural kitchens to tend their own hens for eggs, they don't use roasting chickens for this dish, but use a gallina, an old hen past her laying days. 

Presently in the Philippines, any chicken would do as long as it has the proper weight.  However, commercial chickens tend to have thin skins, which make sewing the fowl together after stuffing a challenge.  Nevertheless, if you can get hold of a native or organically grown fowl, then their thicker skins would help make things a bit easier.

It took me two hours to prepare this dish, from deboning to chopping the filling ingredients and stuffing it in, and an additional two hours for poaching the bird itself. I was committed of course, and the end result was the reward itself.  I served this dish with a salad of mixed greens dressed with vinaigrette, and warmed pan de sal, and it was a perfect meal.

And as for my motivation for preparing this dish for our dinner in the first place?  Well, there was no special occasion, but does one really need to find a reason to have a good meal?  I say any day is a good day. 

The Recipe

1 1.5 to 2-kilos whole chicken (you can ask the butcher to debone this for you, if you wish)
1 kilo ground pork
1 medium white onion, chopped finely
1 medium carrot, chopped finely
1 long or 2 short pieces Chinese sausage, chopped finely
1 can Deviled Ham
1 small can Vienna Sausage, chopped finely
1 T. liquid seasoning
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
2-3 eggs

1.  If you are deboning the chicken yourself, start at the neck and feel with your hand for the wishbones.  Slice of a portion of the meat from the top of the wishbone and release the meat from the bones gently by feeling your way through with your fingers loosening the meat from the bone, then the tendon at the end.  Go the same way sideways towards the wing area and cut off the tendon connecting the wing to the body.  Break off the bone from the wing tip but maintain the wingtip bone where it is.  Do the same to the other side.

2.  Turn the chicken around so the cavity on the lower portion of the bird is facing you then cut off the thigh part from the body bone, careful not to tear into the skin.  Loosen the meat from the thigh bone and disconnect it at the tendon connecting the leg bone.  Do the same to the other side.  To work on the back bone, loosen a portion of the skin next to the butt and work with your fingers to loosen the rest of the meat from the spine and spreading to the rest of the back bone.  Once you reach the top where the neck is, loosen the skin on the neck.  Carefully remove the entire body bone from the lower cavity careful once again not to tear the skin.  Hopefully, you were able to debone the bird without making any additional slices with the knife.  If there were tears long enough that it would give the bird an opening, then one has to sew it together.

3.  With a kitchen twine and sterilized needle, sew the neck portion of the bird close.  Place the deboned chicken in a bowl and sprinkle juice from 3 calamansi (Philippine lemon, or 1 lemon if not available) and let marinate while you are preparing the stuffing.

4.  The stuffing, mix all remaining ingredients (from the ground pork to the eggs) until well incorporated and set aside.
5.  Remove the deboned chicken from the bowl, wash off the lemon juice and pat dry with paper towels.  Set on a large chopping board, and carefully put stuffing through the lower opening, making sure the cavity on the chicken wing and thigh areas are filled.  Sew bottom opening with kitchen twine.
6.  Boil 2 inches of water in a big casserole.  Fit in a rack.  While waiting for the water to boil, wrap the chicken with aluminum foil, making sure that there isn't any opening, then place inside casserole on top of rack when water has boiled.  Poach for 2 hours (for a 2-kilo chicken; 1 hour 40 minutes for a 1.5 kilo chicken), checking to see if there is still water every 30 minutes or so.  If the water has almost evaporated, add more water.
7.  Once cooking time is over, remove the chicken from the casserole and let rest for 15 minutes on another rack.  Remove the foil cover and let chicken cool completely.  You can transfer the chicken in another foil wrapping and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
8.  If you prefer to serve the chicken with a sauce, there will be drippings left in the aluminum foil used for cooking, carefully transfer this liquid in a container.  In the meantime, get a small saucepan, and make a roux by heating 2 T. butter  until melted and adding 2 T. flour, mixing constantly until it thickens.  Add the drippings in a slow steady stream until well incorporated and the sauce reaches a smooth consistency.  Add a dash of pepper, or to taste and serve with the galantina. 
9.  For any leftovers, wrap the chicken in a foil and freeze.  This can then be enjoyed any time as a sandwich filling or as a cold cut. 
For a Filipino-style breakfast, serve it with fried egg and steamed rice with a side of atsara (pickled vegetables).   Just thinking about the possibilities makes me anticipate my morning.

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