68: To Cook a Chicken in a Carafe, Neapolitan Recipe Collection

In the morning take a chicken that was killed the night before and skin it without hot water so the skin does not tear, then eviscerate it and from that spot begin the skinning, pulling it back up to the neck; then cook the meat without the skin; when it is cooked, take the breast and grind it up thoroughly with a little cheese, parsley, marjoram and other fragrant herbs, and mix this into the chicken breast and grind it all again with a little cloves, pepper, cinnamon, saffron and a little veal fat; and mix everything together, adding in two eggs; make this mixture a little on the soft side. Then get a carafe big enough to hold a chicken or capon, and see that the mouth of the carafe is rather wide; then stuff the chicken skin and sew it where you cut it; stick its feet into the carafe and have its neck stick out of the neck of the carafe -for, before inserting the skin, you should make sure that the carafe will be big enough to hold [the whole of the stuffed skin]; if it is big enough, stuff the chicken through its neck which will be sticking out of the neck of the carafe, but do not overstuff it; then tie up the neck and let the chicken swell to take up the space in the carafe; then settle the chicken properly in the carafe by means of a stick; fill the carafe with slightly salted water, and set the carafe to boil inside a cauldron or else gently by the fire-but it would really be better to fill a cauldron with water and boil it, and then, or before it boils, to set the carafe in it; it will be cooked in an hour’s time; send it off to be served, leaving to those whose job it is the weighty problem of carving it up.

Last week, I putjust the leg into a carafe, this week, I put a whole chicken, boneless, and farced (minced) into one.

The dish is functionally a galantine, or meatloaf in a chicken skin. I used to do something similar when I was a kid, but it is a lot of work, so I got out of the habit.

First, find a chicken worth working with. A supermarket bird will be challenging, the fresher the bird the easier it will be to skin without tearing. If you can manage a farm market bird, it will be least difficult.

To skin a chicken, start from the larger end. Oil your hands if you must. Keep it all chilled, and move slowly.

Modern methods usually include skinning the legs, but cutting off the wings joints and leaving them attached to the skin, which is what I did.

When the chicken has been skinned, poach the meat, then mince it and blend with the other ingredients. I kept the skin in a zip bag in the fridge, had I needed to store it for more than an hour, I would have put it in saltwater.

I blended the herbs, spices and cheese, fat, and eggs together while poaching in order to get a sense of my proportions as I minced the meat.

After filling the skin, I stitched it shut with linen thread, and placed it in my carafe. I made certain the neck tube stuck out of the carafe in order to allow the filling to steam and not draw in the salt water it was about to cook in.

I placed the carafe in a larger pot of water, and set it to simmer. The water steamed down and needed to be replenished fairly often, which was a hassle.

While I began the dish with saltwater in my carafe, I did not replenish with saltwater, as I did not wish to add more salt to the dish. A quarter cup total, all in the brine, was quite sufficient for my (lower salt preference) tastes.

While the recipe expected the product to be cooked in an hour, and the filling was set enough for eggs to be safe, the skin of the chicken did not set enough to be food safe, so I had to leave it on the stove longer, and contemplated using a torch to finish, though that would have ruined the appearance and texture. I will sacrifice a lot for food safety.

Having the saltwater up over the whole chicken did not help with this problem, nor did raising the temperature.

In the end, only letting it continue to seethe for several hours, til the contents reached a solid 160, was the only solution. Though the meat was cooked prior to stuffing, the skin had been raw.

On completion, I allowed the meat to cool in the vessel. It had shrunk considerably, making it no trouble at all to remove from my vessel, though it is not radically shaped.

The dish could have used more binding cheese, but it would have lost some of the poultry intensity.

It’s particularly nice if your diners are on a soft diet.

A couple of years ago, I did Recipe 18, a “lasagna” using chicken skin as the noodles. It seems that may have been a usage of the skin if the cook tore it past stitching up well. That dish, I do not recommend.


1 whole chicken, preferably with the neck tube intact, preferably extremely fresh

2 yards undyed, food safe linen

1/4 c fresh cheese; farmers, ricotta, etc, or, in a pinch, extra chicken fat

1/8 c veal fat or chicken fat, or, in a pinch, extra cheese. Not salt pork.

2 eggs

Up to a half cup of fresh herbs, mostly parsley and marjoram, or a teaspoon of each. Tarragon works nicely, as do minced garlic scapes.

1/2 tsp cloves

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp saffron

1 tsp pepper

Do not salt.

Skin Chicken. Set skin aside carefully, break carcass, poach meat and bones.

Separately, make a brine of a quart of water and a quarter cup of salt.

While poaching, blend the herbs, seasonings, cheese, fat and eggs.

Strip meat, cool and mince.

Fold in egg mixture. Look for a texture a bit like thick pancake batter.

Place the chicken mixture in the chicken, sew up the chicken.

Place the galantine in a vessel not much bigger than it, with the neck tube facing up.

Place the vessel in a larger vessel, pour water as high as you can.

Put the saltwater in the smaller vessel.

Place a snug lid overtop.

Simmer til thermometer reads 160.
Allow to cool for a reasonable period of time, extricate from the vessel,

Slice carefully, serve.  Serve the poaching broth separately, it is quite salty.


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