Friday, December 2, 2011

Deboning a Turkey by Proxy

After posting my turkey ballotine photos from Thanksgiving, I was inundated with requests (demands) for a video demonstration. Of course, that would have meant buying and eating another turkey, so I decided to take the easy way out and post this clip from one of my heroes, Jacques Pépin.

This is from pepinfan’s YouTube page, and it looks to be an episode from the venerable chef’s public television series. This was the exact same technique I used on the turkey, except I needed to use a knife for several steps that he's simply doing with his hands. Hopefully it gives you some idea how it’s done. Enjoy!

37 comments:

Chris K. said...

It's amazing how effortless Pepin makes it appear. Me, I'd be inventing new curse words every other step through the process.

After watching this, I've decided I will never, ever attempt to make turducken.

Farmer's City Wife said...

That is absolutely beautiful! His skill is amazing... I intend to practice :).

philogaia said...

I'm so glad you posted this. I found a video of Jacques and Julie where he boned a whole chicken in just over a minute. It was an amazing stunt but I never found anything on how to actually do it. I did my turkey a-la Jacques this year where I jointed it and boned out the thigh bones which I stuffed. They were left attached to the legs and the breast was placed on top of more stuffing. After managing that I'm now rather interested in trying this out. Like Chris K says: he sure makes it look easy...

Anonymous said...

This is the exact video that first introduced me to The Man, Jacques Pepin. He debones the entire chicken like it's as easy as tying his shoes. Insane.

And it's also really cute how he says "lollipop"!

Chef John said...

There are chefs, and then there are chef's chefs. Jacques is a chef's chef. :)

Anonymous said...

That was a pleasure to watch, excellent post.

philogaia said...

Wait a minute...did I just give Jacques stage over Julia (who I mis-typed as Julie which is different this decade.) But I fear I agree with other posters that Jacques is a master and to watch his videos is rather like watching Mozart Opera or great ballet or... Oh dear, sorry...

Pantalone said...

Thanks for posting this Chef John. IMHO he is a Master Chef in these days of "Iron Chefs".

Magnifique!

truthspew said...

Well, I got a few good tips from the video but I seriously doubt I could do almost the entire thing without a knife.

While watching this two things came to mind.

The first is that he's done this a HELL of a lot.

The second was he really knows his poultry anatomy, at least as far as the musculoskelatory parts.

Stelio said...

Chef John: Thank you so very much for sharing this with us. You don't know how many years I've been waiting to learn this technique. God bless you. Enjoy your holidays.
Stelio from Athens

Annie said...

Make the chicken lollipops!! I want to make it for a party but I'm not sure if it will stay crispy.

Anonymous said...

exelent demo... but we want to know the recipe for the stuffing you made for the turkey!!!1!!!!1
whats the worth of this if we dont know what stuffing you made???!1

THE THAKSGIVING SPIRITS DEMAND IT!

Sara said...

I NEVER dreamed of attempting this..but maybe now I just might! Your turkey looks amazing!!

Seth G said...

From PBS "The Complete Pepin: Techniques and Recipes."

Genius.

Anonymous said...

HOW DID YOU MAKE THE STUFFING FOR YOUR TURKEY??????!1!!!11

Chef John said...

First of all, are the all caps really necessary? (and a please would be nice)

Secondly, if you typed "stuffing" in the side bar search box you would have seen the link to my method for stuffing. http://foodwishes.blogspot.com/2008/11/pecan-and-apricot-sourdough-bread.html

Ron Z said...

Dear Chef John:

I've done this a number of times, and I do it routinely for chicken. I learned it by seeing this video, which is also where I learned to truss with a half hitch. It's an amazing video by one of my kitchen styles. I got my first kitchen job by learning all the prep moves from this video series, and it's amazing.

But when doing turkey, I tried it and found that the drumstick has too many of those sinews that become almost bonelike. Did you do the drumstick, as he did on the video, or did you cut off the drumstick? Your turkey looks amazing, and I love turkey, so I think I'll try a ballontine again, but I wasn't thrilled with the results the last time I did it because of the drumstick.

THANKS! (And yes, the thank you part does, in fact, require all caps.)

Chef John said...

I boned out the thigh and the drumstick bones, and then used needle nose pliers to pull out all the tendons. There are like 4-5 major tendons per leg, but they pull right out with a little elbow grease. THANKS! ;)

Anonymous said...

How long do you think and average chicken the you debone takes to bake and what temperature?

Tnx:D

Chef John said...

Maybe an hour at 375, but that's purely a guess.

James Messick said...

Jacques Pepin is my favorite, definitely a rock star in the kitchen. I just love to watch him work, even on things I know that I will never attempt!

Jason D said...

Proof yet again that Jacques Pepin is THE man in terms of technique.

Chef John, what are your thoughts on a fully deboned (but not rolled) chicken/turkey for use on a grill? Do you prefer the spatchcock style with the bones still on, or do you think this style could be ok too?

Jared said...

Chef John, this is a great technique! Tried it for the first time tonight with my little girl (who was in charge of play/pause/rewind on YouTube) and it came out wonderfully! Results here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/misterphisch/6450532055/in/photostream

Chef John said...

Jared, sorry! I accidentally deleted your comment so I had to copy and paste it in myself.

Btw, looks amazing!!! Jacques would be proud!

K said...

Thanks for the shared video, it was great! I think I would try this with a chicken, but I am afraid if I tried it with a turkey I would have turkey mess all over my kitchen! I am excited to try this out, but I am thinking baby steps for this!

Chef John, you are terrific! Love your videos so much!
K

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who thinks Jacques Pepin looks a lot like Gil Gerard (Buck Rogers in the 25th Century)? Every time I see him, I expect Erin Grey to walk on set with Twiki (voiced by Mel Blanc, BTW) and Dr. Theopolis.

BTW, "Spatchcock"! (giggles and runs away)

Anonymous said...

Mind blowing!! C'est tres intéressant!

Love love his accent...

Nossi @ The Kosher Gastronome said...

Awesome vid, I kind of want to do that like now
Anyway, when cooking how do you think we should go about avoiding the legs vs breast conundrum, meaning the whole cooking to different temperatures thing-a-ma-bob
I was thinking putting a bag of ice over the breasts for a while before it cooks, ala Harold McGee, so the breast cooks slower...what are your thoughts?

Chef John said...

No need! Just roast it. You're thinking too much.

Anonymous said...

Wow, so cool! The stuff I never knew I wanted to try before I became a foodwisher.

Blue Arc said...

I tried this on a chicken. Piece of cake it was. Tonight...Cornish hen. I had to watch the vid a dozen time but it works. I'm new to this site but since tuning in I've become a stainless steel pan sauce wizard. I'm a wine sauce reducing genius. Really is satisfying when the guest make sex noises when eating my food. It's a little disgusting at times but I know they really like it. Thanks Chef! You da man!

Troy said...

Hey Chef John,

Long time visitor of your site, your video's really got my wife and I into cooking, it's now one of our favourite things to do together. We tried the turkey ballotine and it turned out great! We took a few photo's because we were so proud haha. Thanks for the inspiration!

http://img267.imageshack.us/img267/4473/73236312.jpg

http://img97.imageshack.us/img97/3188/56201900.jpg

Chef John said...

Thanks!! Looks great!

Lim.Teh.Here said...

Dear Chef John,

your post inspired me to do my own Chicken Ballotine! It turned out beautifully (http://comingsoonlah.blogspot.com/). I'm all set to try a chinese stuffing!

Thank you!

Unknown said...

Hi Chef!
I love trying new techniques. I actually attempted this (not as easy as he makes it look) and while it didn't turn out flawless results it still came out amazing, with a delicious italian herb bread stuffing!
Thank you!

Chibby said...

I used to love watching this guy,The Frugal Gourmet,Yan,and Justin Wilson on PBS.Good times! Galantine sounds suspiciously like gilitine?Spelling?you know, the off with your head machine

Franklin "Blind Yak" Pierce said...

Chef,
Tried this technique this week to see how difficult it would be for Thanksgiving. Did a 10 lb. fresh turkey. Follow the instructions exactly. In order! A second pair of hands may be wise if you go big bird. Cooked at 325.
After it browned I tented it with aluminum foil and used a remote thermometer to finish. Stuffed with cooked country sausage with a great ready made stuffing mix.
Wednesday, big bird!
Thanks for all your sharing. You make us less fearful to try many wonderful things.