Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chicken and Stilton Roulades

This is what I made for my first ever "dinner party": chicken breasts stuffed with stilton, wrapped in bacon and baked. I was about 9 and my sister, 11. We pored over my mother's cookery books for ages before coming up with our menu. If I remember correctly, we started with prawn cocktail, then had these with duchess potatoes and some sort of vegetables, followed by chocolate mousse. The guests were my parents and an older couple who, though childless themselves, liked children very much and would not have been terribly upset if the dinner to which they were invited had not gone entirely as planned...

I believe the book this came from has now been discarded (criminal!) but was called The Dairy Cookbook. (If you search for that on Amazon, most of the titles it comes up with are for dairy-free diets - I guess times have changed.) First time round, I cooked this without booze, using chicken stock instead: if you don't want to open a bottle, though Heaven knows why not, just grab the bouillion powder.

  • 2 chicken breasts, skinned and boned
  • 8 rashers smoked streaky bacon
  • 70g (ish) mature blue stilton
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon butter (approx. 25g)
  • 200ml white wine
  • 100ml water
  • 1/2 small onion, sliced finely
  • 1-2 teaspoons flour
  • black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 180°C.

    Tear off a square of cling film and lay it on the counter. Place a chicken breast on one side of the film and fold the other side over on top of it. Pummel with a rolling pin or other heavy object (I have used tins of chopped tomatoes and even a butternut squash for this in the past) until the chicken is a bit less than a centimeter thick all over, trying not to tear the meat anywhere. Repeat with the other breast.

    In a small bowl, mash the stilton with 1 tablespoon of the butter until well combined. Unwrap the chicken and spoon half of the cheese mix into the middle of each. Wrap the meat around the filling by drawing up two sides and then folding in the ends. Try to get it so that all of the filling is completely encased. Around each chicken parcel, wind 3 or 4 rashers of the bacon. If you are scared that the roulades are a little lopsided, or are likely to fall apart when cooked, use a few wooden cocktail sticks to secure them.

    Scatter the finely sliced onion over the bottom of a medium casserole and place the roulades on top. Pour over the wine and water then put a little knob of butter on top of each parcel. Grind over a spinkling of black pepper. Place the lid on the casserole and cook in the oven for about 30 minutes. After 20 minutes start checking, and when you do so, baste the meat with some of the pan juices to prevent the top drying out.

    When the chicken is cooked though (the easiest way to check is to stab one with a small, sharp knife and look to see if the meat is white throughout), remove from the oven. Lift the parcels out and put on a plate and cover with foil to keep them hot whilst you make the sauce. To do this, sprinkle the flour into the casserole dish and whisk over a high heat until thickened.

    To serve, place a roulade on a plate and pour over a little of the sauce. It should be sitting in a little pool, but the plate should not be flooded. Any leftover sauce can be put on the table in a small jug. These are quite substantial, so I usually omit potatoes or any kind of pure starch and opt instead for a root vegetable of some description (carrot and swede mash is a good match, the sweetness complementing the salty richness of the roulades) and a green number (say green beans or mangetout).

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