What’s long, meaty and looks like an anaemic sausage? The answer, of course, is a ballotine. It’s my discovery of the week.
Surprisingly, perhaps, I learned the word during a lunch not in France, but in Kent. Our friend Jenny was over from Castillonnès last weekend, visiting her daughter in Ashford.
We arranged to meet for lunch on Saturday in Canterbury.
Some 400 years ago, almost half of the city’s population was French Huguenots, who had fled persecution. They have certainly left their stamp on the city.
Restaurants there are quick to promote the local heritage of their dishes, but many also have overtly Gallic influences. Indeed, the city has more French restaurants than anywhere I have been this side of the Channel.
Mind you, Canterbury became a little chavvy by the evening, with men parading in mankinis and then pulling aside the cheap fabric to display their penises. We made a hasty escape.
“A ballotine is a chicken or other poultry thigh that has been deboned and stuffed, tied with string and braised or roasted”
On Sunday, we went for lunch in the village of Mersham, at a beautiful restaurant called The Secret Garden. It certainly lived up to its name.
What’s more, I discovered a ballotine on the menu. The name alone told me it was a dish of French origin, so I ordered one. A ballotine, it transpires, is a chicken or other poultry thigh that has been deboned and stuffed with forcemeat, tied with string and braised or roasted.
The result is a long, thin meaty tube. Thank heavens it wasn’t served in a mankini.