Posts Tagged ‘Ballontine’


I haven’t trounced the ballontine yet. It continues its sneaky advance.

There are a few recipes for ballontines online. Not a lot. The ballontine has lost to the galantine in recent years, badly.

Here’s part of a recipe for a galantine I found online – it does make mention of a ballontine some number of paragraphs into the recipe: (Note – this recipe is from a cookbook published in the year 1889 titled ‘Choice Cookery’ by Catherine Owen. Please try to stay awake – the directions are not only lengthy but also loquacious!)

Galantines are so useful and handsome a dish in a large family, or one where many visitors are received, that it is well worth while to learn the art of boning birds in order to achieve them. Nor, if the amateur cook is satisfied with the unambitious mode of boning hereafter to be described, need the achievement be very difficult.

Experts bone a bird whole without breaking the skin, but to accomplish it much practice is required; and even where it is desirable to preserve the shape of the bird, as when it is to be braised, or roasted and glazed for serving cold, it can be managed with care if boned the easier way. However, if nice white milk-fed veal can be obtained, a very excellent galantine may be made from it, and to my mind to be preferred to fowl, because, because as a matter of fact, when boned there is such a thin sheet of meat that it but serves as a covering for the force-meat (very often sausage-meat), and although it makes a savory and handsome dish, it really is only glorified sausage-meat, much easier to produce in some other way. This is, of course, not the case with turkey; but a boned turkey is so large a dish that a private family might find it too much except for special occasions. On the other hand, galantines of game, although the birds may be still smaller, are so full of flavor that it overwhelms that of the dressing. The following process of boning, however, applies to all birds. To accomplish the work with ease and success, a French boning-knife is desirable, but in the absence of one a sharp-pointed case-knife may do.

That’s just the beginning of the directions. I had a startled moment of recognition when first reading this, then realized that the author sounded very much like my friend Katerina la Vermintz (who actually has a habit of sounding exactly like me if I don’t edit everything I write really rigorously!)

The cookbook, which is online here, starts everyone off on the right foot by instructing the readers as follows:

Choice cookery is not intended for households that have to study economy, except where economy is a relative term; where, perhaps, the housekeeper could easily spend a dollar for the materials of a luxury, but could not spare the four or five dollars a caterer would charge.

Many families enjoy giving little dinners, or otherwise exercising hospitality, but are debarred from doing so by the fact that anything beyond the ordinary daily fare has to be ordered in, or an expensive extra cook engaged. And although we may regret that hospitality should ever be dependent on fine cooking, we have to take things as they are. It is not every hostess who loves simplicity that dares to practise it.

Well, dearie me! I daresay I could spare four or five dollars for a caterer. Where is the phone number? Please advise.

Right now I must take my leave. Something to do. I think it might be something along the lines of making dinner!

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I can not decide what to serve on Christmas.

This is not unusual – I can never decide what to serve on Christmas.

There are reasons for that (as there are reasons for most things). (Whether those reasons are reasonable or not is yet another question but let’s set that aside for the moment).

Ballontines keep popping into my mind this year.

Being plagued by thoughts of ballontines has kept me quite busy. I’ve spent many hours looking up recipes, all the while quite productively avoiding the kitchen itself.

Larousse Gastronomique, (1961 Edition) on ballontines:

This term describes a kind of galantine which is normally served as a hot entree, but can also be served cold.
The ballontine is made of a piece of meat, fowl, game, or fish, which is boned, stuffed and rolled into the shape of a bundle.
To be precise, the term ballontine should apply only to a piece of butcher’s meat, boned, stuffed, and rolled, but it is in fact also applied to various dishes which are actually galantines.

A ballontine is not a galantine. There is a much different sense about it. There is actually something good and fine about a ballontine at its heart, whereas there is really nothing good about any galantine. Galantines are merely pride served chilled, glazed and decorated. They are ancient idiots, barking up the tree of pomposity.

A ballontine is better. It is an ancient idiot also – but since it is served hot, it is tasty.

There is really no good reason to make either one unless you are heading out for a voyage on a steamship and want to make something that will impress the other thousand guests which will also last for a good two months while everyone nibbles on it here and there all the while admiring the skill that must! have gone into making it.

Yet the ballontine is calling my name. Making one is like sitting down to write a novel in chapters – rather than just tossing off an essay here and there.

The last time I made one I could not stand to eat any sort of meat for more than a month. The boning of the duck, the pureeing of this kind of meat filling and that kind of meat filling, the chopping of the duck livers, the decorative slicing of the other several kinds of meat, the arranging of the duck skin to cover it all just so, the roasting of the bones and the making of the stock – it warped into a sort of meaty nightmare.

Couldn’t stand the sight or taste of pistachios either, since they had been dotted here and there within the ballontine.

Yet the ballontine is calling my name.
Never fear – I will fight it with all my might.

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