Regard my roulade

Not a euphemism.

I wanted to experiment with different cooking methods, and one that seemed to check the “vaguely healthy” requirement list was simmering a roulade.

So, just what is a roulade? The word is taken from the French “rouler” meaning “to roll” and that’s pretty much all it is: a roll. I stuck to fairly safe ingredients, ingredients that I knew fit well with each other, and just tried to figure out a way to cook it that was healthy (-ish) but tasty.

All ingredients are fairly open-ended as it is more experiment than recipe. Try it for yourself with any variations you prefer.

Roulade experiment one

Spinach, mozzarella, and bacon speck-filled chicken roulade, on a bed of sweet potato puree

Ingredients

  • 3 free-range chicken breasts, around 300g each, no skin
  • Handful of baby spinach
  • Small ball of mozzarella, cut into small cubes
  • 100g bacon speck, sliced to thickness 2.5
  • 1 sweet potato
  • Dash of single or double cream
  • A stick of butter

Method

  1. Set a pot of water to boil;
  2. With a filleting knife, butterfly each breast (cut horizontally almost all the way and open it out like a book,) and trim excess fat while you’re at it, if there is any;
  3. On a bench top, lay down a 50cm length of cling film, then lay it down a second time (double thickness) and place one breast in the middle (repeat for the other two);
  4. Fill one side of the breast with the spinach, mozzarella, and bacon speck;
  5. Using the cling film to help you, gently but firmly roll the chicken onto itself, careful not to lose any ingredients, and keep it in place with the cling film (hold the ends and roll it along the bench top, and it should twist at each end. I use the excess lengths on either side to tie to each other, so it sort of looks like a little meat bag complete with handle);
  6. Repeat for other two chicken breasts, wrap in aluminium foil (the cling film has a chance of peeling off during cooking otherwise,) and place in freezer to help set the shape;
  7. Peel and trim the sweet potato, and cut into 1-inch chunks;
  8. Add to the pot of water and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, then use a slotted spoon or skimmer to fish the pieces out, keeping water and reducing to a simmer;
  9. Quickly, before the sweet potato cools, throw straight into a blender or food processor, add butter and cream, blitz until it becomes a fine purée. Add salt and pepper to taste;
  10. Take chicken breasts out and add them to the pot of now simmering water (they should have been in the freezer around 15 minutes) and set a timer for 12 minutes;
  11. It’s handy if you have a Thermapen, or some other accurate temperature gauge. After 12 minutes, carefully fish out one of the chicken breasts, unwrap it just enough to poke it with a temperature gauge. 75°C–80°C? Perfect. Take them out and leave them to sit for 2 minutes. Otherwise, re-wrap and put back in for a little while longer;
  12. Using a spoon, spread out a layer of sweet potato purée, unwrap the chicken breasts and slice into thirds (with two pieces per serve) arrange on top and add cracked pepper, a pinch of salt, and perhaps a drop of extra virgin olive oil.

Roulade experiment number two

The first time I experimented, I didn’t second wrap my roulades in aluminium foil, so the cling film peeled itself off as they cooked, releasing all those meat juices into the pot water. Also, I was lazy and simply poked the roulade with my Thermapen without unwrapping and re-wrapping it, which to some extent released meat juices as well. So that’s why I experimented again.

I tried some slightly different flavours, and since asparagus has been in season, I thought I’d try:

  • Ricotta instead of mozzarella (especially since I only used mozzarella in the first place because I wanted to finish it off);
  • 2 bunches green asparagus and 250g baby chat potato in place of the sweet potato;
  • 1 bunch white asparagus, gently simmered for garnish;

Spinach, ricotta, and English streaky bacon-filled chicken roulade, on a bed of green asparagus and potato puree, with some white asparagus on the side

I think I’d improved the cooking method for the second experiment, but much preferred the flavours of the first (the sweet potato purée gave it a nice kick.)

If there’s anyone out there, and you give this a go, let me know how you went!

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