Armed with nothing more than a sharp boning knife, and some patience, pretty much anyone can make this visually impressive 'chicken little,' or as they say in the biz, 'individual chicken ballotine.' Since there is a bit of production involved, I do suggest making these ahead, and keeping them in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

Chef John


Original recipe yields 2 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist
Compound Butter:
Pan Sauce:


Instructions Checklist
  • Remove wings at the point they join the body. Make cuts on either side of the breastbone, angling the blade toward the bone. Continue making the cut deeper as you pull the breast meat away from the rib cage, on either side of the wishbone, and down to the pelvic bone. This is to detach the breast meat but keep it connected to the leg.

  • Remove the thigh bone by cutting on either side of it with short cuts and severing the bone from the leg bone. Being careful not to cut through the chicken skin, cut the flesh around the top of the leg bone and remove that joint where the cartilage meets the bone. The only bone remaining will be the leg bone. Optionally, remove the ends of the legs where the cartilage meets the bone.

  • Place garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, and butter in the bowl of a mortar. Pound with the pestle until mashed and mixed.

  • Generously season the inside of the chicken halves with salt and pepper. Spread half of the seasoned butter on the meat of each chicken half.

  • Tuck breast into pocket of the thigh; shape each half into a base covered completely with skin and with the leg sticking straight up.

  • Cut a length of foil as long as it is wide. Fold in half, then fold over the cut-edge side about an inch. Grease with a drizzle of olive oil. Repeat for the 2nd chicken. Place each chicken half in the center of prepared foil. Bring up the sides of the long ends of foil, about 1-inch up the base of the chicken; tighten slightly around the pieces to hold the bases in shape all the way around. Wrap the remaining lengths around the base in opposite directions.

  • Transfer to a plate; cover with plastic and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Transfer halves to a shallow roasting pan or ovenproof skillet. Brush with olive oil or melted butter; sprinkle with a pinch or 2 of salt.

  • Place in preheated oven. Roast until golden for 20 minutes. Remove from oven. and carefully remove foil from around the base of each half, pouring any accumulated juices back in the pan. Transfer to oven and roast until bases are browned and internal temperature reaches 150 degrees F, about 10 more minutes.

  • Transfer pan to stove and broth or (white wine) to deglaze pan. Place chicken on serving plates.

  • Drizzle with pan sauce.

Chef's Note:

Since there is a bit of production involved, I do suggest making these ahead, and keeping them in the fridge until you're ready to serve. Not only will they roast to an even more beautiful golden brown, but your flavored butter ingredients inside will have time to permeate the meat.

Nutrition Facts

410 calories; 32.7 g total fat; 183 mg cholesterol; 602 mg sodium. 1.3 g carbohydrates; 26.2 g protein; Full Nutrition

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