How to Debone & Stuff a Chicken to Make a Ballotine
This video and step-by-step guide will show you the techniques you need to stuff a whole chicken.
Want to transform a basic whole chicken into something brilliant? Make a chicken ballotine. This typical French preparation involves deboning a whole chicken then stuffing and rolling it before cooking. We're not going to lie: the process takes some knife skills, but with a little time and patience you'll be happy you gave it a whirl. (P.S. You can also ask your butcher to debone the chicken for you.)
Set Yourself Up for Success
You'll want a sharp boning knife, large cutting board and kitchen towels or paper towels. Place the chicken breast-side up on the cutting board with the neck facing you.
Step 1: A wing has 3 parts: the tip, the wingette (the flat middle) and the drumette (the portion attached to the chicken). Use your hands to snap the joints on either side of the wingette.
Step 2: With a firm grip and twisting gently, pull the two bones in the wingette through the skin to remove them. Use a towel for better grip.
Step 3: Trim the wing tips and save for another use. (Test Kitchen Tip: Keep a sealable container in your freezer to stash chicken bones in. Use them to make stock when you have enough.)
Step 4: Find the breastbone and cut along each side, staying as close to the bone as you can. Gently pull the breast meat on both sides away from the breastbone.
Step 5: Cut through the shoulder joints but leave them attached.
Step 6: Cut along the carcass without cutting through the back skin.
Step 7: Slice through each drumstick, cutting all the way to the bone.
Step 8: Pull each drumstick bone and joint through the cuts. Slice along the bones to keep as much of the meat attached the carcass as possible.
Step 9: Cut through each thigh all the way to the bone. Pull each thigh bone and joint through the cuts. Slice along the bones to keep as much of the meat attached the carcass as possible.
Step 10: Hold the carcass in one hand and make short cuts around it to separate it entirely from the meat.
Step 11: Make incisions around the drumette bones, cutting around the joints, and pull them out of the meat.
Step 12: Spread the stuffing down the center of the deboned chicken.
Step 13: Fold the chicken tightly around the stuffing.
Step 14: Truss the stuffed chicken, making slipknots by looping kitchen string around and under it.
Step 15: Flip the ballotine over and thread the end of the string over and under each loop. Tuck in any stuffing that may have come loose during the trussing.
Step 16: Tie the two ends together tightly and trim any excess string.
Want to stuff something smaller? Try our Stuffed Chicken Breast Recipes.