Chicken ballottines with sage & pancetta

Chicken ballottines with sage & pancetta

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(5 ratings)

Ready in about 1¼ hours

More effort

Serves 4

Gordon Ramsay shares his secrets for jazzing up chicken legs

Nutrition and extra info

  • chicken only


  • kcal656
  • fat51g
  • saturates11g
  • carbs3g
  • sugars0g
  • fibre0g
  • protein45g
  • salt2.93g


  • 4 whole chicken legs (drumsticks and thighs), with skin on
  • 100g chestnut mushroom, finely chopped
  • olive oil
    olive oil

    Olive oil

    ol-iv oyl

    Probably the most widely-used oil in cooking, olive oil is pressed from fresh olives. It's…

  • 6 best-quality chipolata sausages
  • 200g very thin straight rashers pancetta or 20 thin smoked streaky bacon rashers



    Pancetta is Italian cured pork belly - the equivalent of streaky bacon. It has a deep, strong,…

  • 8 fresh sage leaves



    Popular in both Italian and British cookery, sage has long, grey-green leaves with a slightly…

  • a few knobs of unsalted butter

To serve

  • Gordon’s classic vinaigrette (see tip below)



    A basic oil and vinegar-based salad dressing usually used to dress salads. A good vinaigrette…

  • roasted tomatoes (see tip below)



    A member of the nightshade family (along with aubergines, peppers and chillies), tomatoes are in…


  1. Firstly neaten the ends of the drumsticks. Using a small sharp knife, make a cut all around each chicken leg, about 4cm up from the knuckle end. Holding the leg like a gun, squeeze it tight to pull the skin taut, then scrape down to the bottom of the bone to remove the tendons and clean the bone, turning the leg as you go (scissors are good for cutting the tendons). Now position your knife across the bottom of the exposed bone and bash the knife with a rolling pin or meat mallet – the bone will break smoothly.

  2. Lay the chicken legs skin-side down, pull the flaps of skin back and cut the flesh with a very sharp small knife on either side of the thigh bone using a shaving action. Once the bone is exposed, prise it out, then twist and snap it with your fingers to free it from the drumstick. If it doesn’t snap clean you may have to cut it. You now have a part-boned chicken leg.

  3. Lightly sauté the mushrooms in a little hot olive oil for about 5 minutes until lightly browned, season well and leave to cool. Open out the boned chicken legs and spoon in the mushrooms. Cut the end off each chipolata and squeeze the sausagemeat over the mushrooms, using the chipolata skin as a piping bag. Push sausagemeat with your fingers right to the top of the thigh, then close the flaps and pull the skin across to secure. Now roll the legs over to make the parcels as neat as possible, then hold the exposed bone and straighten out each leg.

  4. Cut 4 sheets of foil (enough to wrap each chicken leg comfortably). Lay 6-7 rashers of pancetta down the centre of each sheet, overlapping slightly, then put the chicken legs crossways over the pancetta and top each leg with 2 sage leaves. Lift up the edge of the foil that is furthest away from you, bring it over the chicken and press down on the chicken, so that the pancetta comes away from the foil and sticks to the chicken. Repeat with the other side of the foil so the chicken legs are all wrapped in pancetta.

  5. Roll each leg in the foil, tucking it in and pressing it tight to the chicken to form a neat cylinder. Lift the cylinder up by the bone at one end and roll the foil at both ends, twisting to make a cracker shape.

  6. Preheat oven to fan 200C/conventional 220C/gas 7. Put the chicken parcels on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, turning them twice. Turning them like this ensures they will be evenly coloured. Turn the oven down to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4 and roast for a further 30 minutes, turning once. Remove and allow to stand for 10 minutes. Unwrap, tipping the juices on to a plate.

  7. Heat 1 tbsp oil and a knob of butter in a non-stick sauté pan until hot and foaming. Put the chicken legs in the pan and brown over a high heat on all sides, basting frequently and turning with a pair of tongs. As they start to brown, add a few small knobs of butter one at a time to the fat in the pan (adding the butter a little at a time keeps it fresh and prevents scorching). Lift the chicken legs from the pan and roll them around in the juices on the plate so they pick up a nice glaze.

  8. Cut the stuffed thigh meat of each chicken leg on the diagonal into 3 slices each. Don’t slice the meat too thin or it will get cold. Spoon the polenta on to the plates, stand the drumsticks in the middle and lay 3 slices of stuffed chicken in front. Drizzle with a little vinaigrette and serve immediately, with roasted tomatoes on the side.

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Comments, questions and tips

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29th Jul, 2011
This wasn't that hard to do, and tasted absolutely delicious. I only had garlicky italian sausages in so used those to stuff the chicken and I used streaky bacon to wrap them. Will definately make again.
11th Sep, 2010
Made thid dish for 10 people at a dinner party. I am an experienced cook and some of the processes were quite fiddly(the wrapping for example needs to be very tight otherwise the presentation will be less than perfect). However it is well worth the effort and makes a very impressive dish.
15th Sep, 2009
Excellent dish if time is not an issue. Use bacon instead of pancetta and still tasted great. Really liked the different textures of the sausage, chicken and bacon.
20th May, 2008
A bit fiddley and time consuming found i need more sausages than listed, however tasted great and looked stunning one to impress!
28th Nov, 2007
Make sure the pork mixture is pliable before you begin stuffing the chicken.
Yvette Addy
24th Apr, 2016
any other stuffing ideas besides mushrooms? I'm really not a fan of them.
17th Sep, 2014
How much of this can you do in advance?
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