I’m really quite proud of this recipe! Not only was it syn free and delicious, but it was super cheap and looked really impressive when served up, what more could you want really? The ballotine is stuffed with delicious bacon, mushrooms and spinach, on a bed of cheesy mash and accompanied by basil roasted cherry tomatoes, it really was a winning dish, and my darling grandpa who enjoyed it with me wholeheartedly agreed!
What’s more, is whilst this dish looks like it could be slightly complex to put together, it really couldn’t have been more simple! All you need is a good sized chicken breast (I used one of the Muscle Foods ones from my exclusive deal!), a rolling pin, some cling film and a few additional ingredients to stuff into the ballotine, and you’ve got a dinner party ready dish, ready in about half an hour!
As someone who adores food, and cooking, it’s always a really special feeling when you make a dish that just ‘works’, and this is one of those dishes. I love creating recipes that come together so perfectly, so when I rather cautiously unwrapped the ballotine (which is boiled in water before being browned in the frying pan) I was absolutely thrilled that it hadn’t been a massive fail. It does require a certain amount of careful handling, to make sure that it doesn’t split open but as a clumsy person I can confirm that this really isn’t too much of a barrier!
I want to take a moment to talk about the absolutely sensational roasted cherry tomatoes. I’ve not included these in the recipe below, as it doesn’t really warrant it as they’re so simple. So if you do want to make some similar to the ones in the picture, all you need to do is heat your oven to 200 degrees, spray a small baking tray with lots of Fry Light, tip on the whole cherry tomatoes, sprinkle on some basil, salt and pepper, spray with more Fry Light and then bake for about 20 minutes (turning half way through). As long as you’ve used plenty of Fry Light they should roast really nicely, and then I’ve just served them with some fresh basil to add even more flavour. The mash I made was simply my Best Ever Mashed Potato recipe (syn free) with my HexA of Mozzarella stirred in to turn it cheesy!
One of the things that you can’t really tell from the picture, is quite how juicy and moist (sorry my least favourite word!) the chicken was in this dish. I think that’s down to the way it’s cooked, which keeps all of the delicious chicken and bacon juices together with the meat, making sure it doesn’t dry out as it’s boiled and then finally being sealed in at the end. As well as being deliciously tender and melt in the mouth, it also makes sure that the chicken is packed with flavour!
One of my favourite things about this meal, aside from how delicious it was, was who I got to eat it with. My grandpa is one of the real inspirations in my life, having travelled round the world 2.5 times since my grandma’s sad passing when I was younger – that includes driving around the whole of Australia and visiting most countries. He has also written two and a half novels (watch this space!) and has the most beautiful love for life I’ve ever seen. He is who I want to be when I’m 85 years old, and so to be able to sit, cooke for him, and enjoy a bang up meal will always be special. As he kindly put it when he was tucking in – “I don’t have favourite grandchildren, but right now it’s you!”, so if that’s not a testament to the dish I don’t know what is!
A delicious, simple and cost effective syn free dinner!
- 2x Large Chicken Breasts (I used Muscle Foods chicken, see post for details)
- Handful roughly chopped mushrooms
- 5x Rashers Bacon (all visible fat removed, chopped small - I used Muscle Foods bacon)
- 1x Onion (finely chopped)
- Handful Fresh Uncooked Spinach
- Fry Light
- Salt & Pepper (to taste)
- Cling Film
- Lay out a large section of cling film on a flat surface. Place your chicken breast about 6 inches apart on the cling film, and then cover with another piece.
- With your rolling pin, bash the chicken breasts until they're about half an inch thick and have spread out a lot larger than they were. Try and keep the bashing quite equal, so that they're roughly the same shape, ideally rectangular.
- When they're about half an inch thick, overlap the closest edges of the chicken and recover with cling film. Using the rolling pin bash/roll the overlapping section so that the chicken joins together.
- When the chicken is effectively one large rectangle (it won't be 100% joined but it'll stay in place), set it to one side.
- Fry the onion and bacon using Fry Light, and then fry the mushrooms separately.
- Cover the chicken with one layer of spinach until about an inch away from the edges, and then spoon on the mushrooms. On top of that spoon on a layer of the fried bacon and onion.
- Using the bottom layer of cling film, roll both sides of the chicken up and around the filling, so that it forms a tube, and then twist the ends of the cling film over and over until they can't twist anymore. This should form an airtight tube, and the ends of the chicken should be sealed up due to the pressure.
- If you're worried about it being airtight, just wrap in another layer of cling film before you twist the ends up and then carry on as normal.
- Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, and place in the ballotine. It will float so one side will cook faster than the other, just turn it after about 10 minutes.
- Remove from the pan after 15 minutes and place it in a bowl (to catch the juices when you open it!). Allow it to cool slightly.
- Using a knife or scissors, carefully remove the cling film (don't burn yourself, if it's too hot let it cool some more). Drain the juices from the cling film. Make sure that the chicken doesn't come apart at the seam, it might do slightly but you're about to seal it in the frying pan so it shouldn't matter too much.
- Heat a frying pan with Fry Light, and then carefully place the ballotine seam side down on the frying pan. Fry on all sides until browned.
- Leave it to rest for 2-5 minutes, if you try and cut it before then it will come apart. Slice it into discs using a sharp knife.
- Serve with mash and roasted veggies!
Syn free on Slimming World.