Chicken Cylinders

Flattened out chicken breast stuffed with black pudding and wrapped in pancetta – alternative fillings are described below.

In this recip,e one large chicken breast will feed two in my house – but you might need one each if you have bigger appetites depending on what you serve with it.

If you are making this for party nibbles – it does look appetising cut into slices – you’ll get four or five from each chicken breast depending on size

It’s worth making more than you need – freezing instructions are in the recipe – and it’s really easy then to produce something lovely without hassle.

You can serve this with loads of things, here are some ideas:

¨       With neeps and tatties

¨       On circles of bubble & squeak and redcurrant jelly gravy

¨       As a warm salad over tomatoes and leaves with grain mustard dressing

¨       With a warm new potatoes dressed in oil and lemon and chives

¨       For breakfast with creamy scrambled egg

¨       Cold for a party – slice thinly, arrange decoratively, then put a splodge of mango chutney on top (or spicier chutney, or redcurrant jelly, or mayonnaise)

Ingredients – this is written for one average sized chicken breast – multiply by number of people

1 medium chicken breast – skin removed

1 slice of black pudding – the size you’d get in a ‘full breakfast’ – remove skin from the outside

2 rashers of pancetta

Oil to fry – or butter – or whatever – so long as it’s clean and either flavourless or tasty it’ll be fine

Boiling water

Cling film (obviously this isn’t an ingredient to eat – but you’ll be stuck if you haven’t checked you’ve got some)

Method

¨       Place chicken breast between two pieces of cling film and bash with a rolling pin or similar until it’s as evenly flat and as thin as you dare without making holes in it – the odd hole isn’t a disaster though – you’ll be able to cover it with the pancetta  I wouldn’t use one of those steak tenderisers with pointy bits – they’re too heavy and too rough, I’d end up smashing the chicken up. If your chicken breast is particularly thick you can make a couple of cuts (not all the way through) into the underside  to help open it out. I hit mine with a rolling pin

¨       Lay the black pudding in the centre of the chicken and wrap the chicken around it, then wrap the pancetta around the outside

¨       Roll the whole thing into a sausage shape, as tightly as you can using three or four layers of cling film, but be careful not to catch the cling film inside the sausage, then twist the ends of the cling film as tightly as you can, squishing it all together and shaping into a nice, neat shape – put the chicken sausage in the fridge for an hour at this stage, if you have time, to firm up.  It can stay there until the next day if you want

¨       Boil the kettle and tip it into a pan that’s large enough to take your chicken sausage – you need enough boiling water to easily cover the chicken, put your sausage in, still in the cling film, and simmer for ten minutes. You can pause at this point if you want to – so you could do the poaching in the afternoon and finish off for dinner or party nibble later. If you have made more than you need immediately, you can freeze after poaching – just make sure that you defrost before going to the next stage and the cook it slowly to make sure it’s hot all the way through.

¨       Unwrap the chicken from the cling film, heat some oil in a frying pan and cook on all sides, until the pancetta is getting crisp

¨       Slice into neat thin rounds for party stuff (good hot or cold) and if you’re getting all cheffy with presentation for dinner, otherwise just cut in half and eat!

Chicken:  buy the best you can – not always possible to have the really delicious, cared for bird, but do what you can – recipes will still work, you’ll just lose flavour and texture and maybe you should cook something else tonight  (and if you need to use the el cheapo versions – please campaign against horrible, nasty, inhumane ways of rearing chickens)

Black pudding:  I am a Scot and love Scottish black pudding – the fat is mixed through and it has a high oatmeal content. I haven’t made this with black pudding from anywhere else, (except French boudin noir which was rather soft but worked OK) can’t see why it wouldn’t work though.

Alternatives to black pudding: leftover haggis works brilliantly, as does pretty much any sort of stuffing – sage and onion, thyme and lemon, redcurrant and sausage – I’d avoid the paxo route and use cooked leftovers (which you will have frozen in a thrifty manner – even though there was only a handful left – same with the haggis), or uncooked (which you froze after thriftily making a little bit extra with the last roast dinner). Failing that, buy ready-made from the supermarket.  Otherwise a couple of good quality, coarse sausages stripped of their skins are a brilliant substitute – you can buy all sorts of flavours and different meats – they’ll all work perfectly, just choose the ones that will work for you with chicken. Duxelles works v well too (mushrooms chopped up small and fried in some butter until no water remains and they are slightly caramelised)

Pancetta: pancetta really works best in this recipe – but you can use parma ham or streaky bacon – the frying bit won’t make as perfect an outside, and if you want to make neat slices, bacon won’t work so well  – but will still taste very good

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