Wikipedia defines a ballotine as a traditionally a boned thigh part of the chicken, duck or other poultry stuffed with forcemeat and other ingredients. It is tied to hold its shape and sometimes stitched up with a trussing needle. A ballotine is cooked by roasting, braising or poaching. A ballotine is often shaped like a sausage or re-formed to look like the leg, often with a cleaned piece of bone left in the end.  In today’s commercial kitchens a ballotine is often made from other parts of poultry like the leg meat, also today’s ballotine may be made using many types of meat and not always poultry. Although ballotines are related to galantines they are distinctive by being single-serve items classified as entrées as opposed to relevés.  They are also served hot or cold, whereas a galantine will be served cold.

Having grown up with pheasant cooked two days in a slow cooker with wild rice, I was ready for a recipe worthy of this royal creature, the pheasant!  And this is no pilau or pilaf, which are common from Charleston to Canada, this is a show stopping French entree, and it’s super easy to make.

INGREDIENTSMcCook pheasant

  • 2 pheasant, whole, double breasted for ballotine
  • 1/2 cup cooked smoked ham, cut in cubes
  • 1½ cups stale corn bread, for stuffing
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter


Each ballotine is made from the entire pheasant skin of one bird with meat attached, and bones discarded. After boning the pheasant, lay the resulting skin and meat combination on the counter, skin down, meat up, revealing the trench between the two breasts intended to receive meat pared from the leg bones, and eventually the stuffing. Do not worry about slight tears in the skin.

To make the stuffing, the smoked ham should be placed in a processor with the cornbread, parsley, egg, half of the melted butter, and salt and pepper. Whirl for a few seconds to mix thoroughly, and reduce the meat size to tiny points. Spread half of the mixture evenly over each of the two pheasant skins. Form the rolls from the head toward the tail, lifting the skin at the head and rolling it over the stuffing and continue rolling until the tail skin has wrapped into place. Close the roll with four small poultry skewers, and wrap with cotton string and place in a shallow roasting pan before going on to the next roll.

Preheat the oven to 350’F. Bake the ballotines in the remaining melted butter for one hour, turning three times and basting three times, adding oil as needed to avoid burning. Remove the rolls from the oven and cool. Remove the skewers and string and cut in transverse 1/2-inch slices, sausagelike. Arrange on a cold buffet with green beans vinaigrette and a tossed cabbage salad.