An old client has hired us to make a posh picnic for their visit to the “Penshurst Point to Point” meeting tomorrow in Kent. Today we started the laborious task of boning out a selection of birds to create a classic old fashioned French dish called a Galantine.
Photo2: We boned out a Guinea Fowl and two small poussin and after discarding the carcasse we reformed the birds into their original shape with the help of a forcemeat stuffing made up of lean pork meat, chicken breast, mushroom and duck breast strips. The forcemeat is traditionally herbed with tarragon and chicken stock and Brandy.
The start quality of this dish is that at the table the bird looks normal but it can be carved without concern for bones. This dish isn’t produced much these days because of the boning out process which takes time and skill. When the bird is finally boned out the skin cannot have any puncture marks in it, or it will leak forcemeat and look terrible. So the art is in the boning and for a bird as small as a poussin – this amounts to very careful micro surgery.
Even though this dish does get a mention around the time of the French revolution in the 1790’s – this dish was at its apogee during the 1890’s to the 1930’s, when it was seen on the plates of European plutocrats and aristocracy. In those days the forcemeat was usually a very finely minced lean veal, which was whipped over a bowl of ice to bind the proteins, with as much cream added as the minced veal could absorb when super cold – which was a lot. It was then herbed usually with tarragon and the forcemeat typically would have been formed around a block of Foie Gras before it was inserted into the bird. This is just way way to rich for todays modern palettes. Our lighter forcemeat is held together by the addition of a very reduced stock made up of all the discarded carcasses. This produces a very rich jelly which helps binds the meats together. I also use this rich savoury jelly, mixed with apricot preserve to glaze the top of the birds.