Yesterday I decided to take on the daunting task of completely de-boning a whole chicken to make what is known as a Ballantine (Ballotine) – I am still not sure which is the correct spelling, but lucky for me this is a cooking blog and not a literary one.

Since this was my first time attempting this process I looked to the master, Chef Jacques Pépin. The video link posted below is nothing less than incredible, it’s like watching Michelangelo sculpt the statue of David….only in this case, David is a 5 pound chicken.

I followed his instructions step by step and my chicken was de-boned to perfection. Of course Chef makes it look like child’s play, which after a few four-letter words and some deep breaths, I learned was a little more difficult than he makes it appear.

Either way, the chicken came out awesome! I decided to stuff it with my mom’s classic Thanksgiving stuffing recipe because with this recent NYC fall-like weather, I have been craving the tastes of Thanksgiving.

I plan to make this Ballantine again in the future for Sunday Football, but plan to go along the flavor profile of Buffalo Chicken!

If you’re looking for a great way to get to know the anatomy and structure of a chicken, this is an awesome way to try! The best part is, I was able to use all the bones and carcass of the chicken to make a homemade Stock from which I then made a delicious gravy to serve alongside my Ballantine!

Click the link Below for Chef Pépin's Video on how to de-bone and stuff and whole chicken:

De-Boning a Whole Chicken

Chicken Ballantine

Prep Time

40 Minutes
Cook Time

1 Hour 20 Minutes
Total Time

2 Hours

Serves 4


  • 1 Pound Sweet Italian Sausage (casings removed)
  • 1/2 Onion (minced)
  • 2 Celery Stalks (minced)
  • 1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs
  • 6 oz Mozzarella (shredded)
  • 1 Egg
  • 5 Pound Whole Chicken
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper


  • Make your stuffing: In a cast iron pan, cook your sausage, breaking up with a spoon until it's no longer pink. Remove sausage with a slotted spoon, and place in a large bowl. Dump out all but 1 teaspoon of the sausage fat from the pan, and over a medium heat saute your onion and celery for about 8 minutes (until soft and translucent). Add the onion/celery to the sausage. Mix in the breadcrumbs, mozzarella and egg until incorporated. Reserve.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Follow the steps to de-boning a whole chicken (from video). Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper. Stuff some of the stuffing into each leg, and add the rest to the center of the chicken. Follow the video on how to tie up the chicken with twine. I used the entire carcass of the chicken to make a homemade stock which I then made into a gravy
  • Place the chicken with the seam side down in the same cast iron pan you made the stuffing in. Drizzle generously with Olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for an hour and 20 minutes (basting every so often with the juices that collect in the pan). Let rest for 15 minutes before removing the twine and slicing.