Play with your food! Stuffed chicken.

(technique)

Close up of chicken roulade before wrapping. I still need to learn about colors and light.

Close up of chicken roulade before wrapping. I still need to learn about colors and light.

Close up of chicken roulade before wrapping. I still need to learn about colors and light.

Chicken meat after being fused with Activa.

The food industry puts too many chemicals in our food, it’s an idea I wholly concur with, which is part of the reason I do almost everything from scratch. There are enzymes and amino acids which have been lumped into  that idea of chemical which Molecular Gastronomists have embraced and which I use regularly in my kitchen. One of my favorite kitchen toys is Activa, aka transglutaminase.

stuffed with mushroom pate

Stuffed with mushroom pate, each area has a sprinkle of different herbs, dried onion, fried shallot. Click the photo to see another application with foie gras.

Restaurants and supermarket butchers use it to make uniform cuts of meat. Simply take two small pieces, sprinkle the amino acids, and put them together. The amino acids will fuse the two pieces into one.

Chicken after being sprinkled with Activa

Chicken after being sprinkled with Activa. After applying the skin, all of that flavor will be kept in the meat. Click the photo to see another application with turkey.

When I first purchased Activa, like most people, I went overboard fusing deer with beef, or putting chicken skin on pork, or poultry legs where nature did not intend them to be. Now, I use it more incorporate scraps or shape what I’m making, as I did here.

After applying the skin to the meat cover it with plastic and let it rest at least 1 hour, preferably over night.

After applying the skin to the meat cover it with plastic and let it rest at least 1 hour, preferably over night.

I took the meat from several deboned legs (tendons removed) and fused them into on piece. I made slits in the meat to “stuff” it with Mushroom Pate (link coming). To keep the moisture and flavor from the pate in the meat I fused the skin from chicken breast over it. Then I pan fried the meat in a non-stick pan until it was just about done and browned the skin in the broiler. It was amazing. It was pretty normal here — I do this all the time. Mushrooms and chicken are a natural match. Adding different seasoning to parts of the meat, not several seasonings all over the meat made each bite unique. The skin was crispy, the inside self saucing and moist.

Don’t discount food additives just because they have a long name, or are processed. Activa is just an amino acid and enzyme which can help you explore your creativity in the kitchen.

Stuffed chicken skin with shitake mushrooms, white asparagus, rabe

Stuffed chicken skin with shitake mushrooms, white asparagus, rabe. (An example where the white balance is off, the colors were much more intense.)

Stuffed chicken skin with shitake mushrooms, white asparagus, rabe

Working on composition.

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7 Comments on “Play with your food! Stuffed chicken.

  1. Good to hear some of the secrets of the food industry. As a home cook I’m completely ignorant of these. What is it about Activa that does the trick do you know?

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    • Sorry for the late reply.

      Activa is an amino acid, so it binds to the amino acids in meat proteins, linking to them. That linking fuses them together. There’s a much more complex answer about molecular bonds breaking yada, yada, yada but in short that what it means.

      It’s a little expensive but you don’t need much and it lasts in the freezer for about a year.

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  2. How very very clever, but I like my food to look like what it was, not all stuck together in a clump. Is there another reason for doing this, like flavour or taste. Maybe I have misunderstood what is going on. X

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    • We’ll, let’s say you like dark meat and you want a large piece, perhaps cooked quickly, perhaps made into a roulad. Because of the the size of, say, a chicken leg, you’ll only ever get a small piece of boneless dark meat — which is fine, or you can put them together as one piece as here.

      Or, perhaps you’ve trimmed several cut of meat and you have a bunch of scraps. You can make a minced meat, or combine them together as a new fillet. This is what restaurants do to make sure each customers cut is exactly the same.

      Another application (I love) is to chill your space with gelatin and place a thick slab on top of the meat. Sprinkle the activa and create a pocket of sauce under a crispy skin. This is a modified version of that, the mushroom juices only escape when I cut into the fillet. It’s a wonderful surprise that makes the meat flavorful and moist.

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  3. Ha! I really need to see these frankenmeats with the unnatural legs. ;D I always wondered how people stuffed meats without everything falling out — this makes so much more sense. There are tools for a reason, people… use em! I feel like while cuts of meat don’t naturally heal like Wolverine, using this Activa stuff just makes sense to save your sanity while cooking and make things neater.

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