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A paupiette is a French dish made from a thin piece of meat, poultry, or fish that is stuffed with additional ingredients. The base of the dish is typically covered with a filling of finely chopped vegetables, meats, fruits, breadcrumbs, and tightly formed into a roll. Once the stuffed fish, poultry, or meat is cooked through, it is generally cut into small rounds prior to serving. Paupiettes are also commonly referred to as roulades, a word based on the French word meaning “to roll.”
The process of putting together a paupiette usually begins with preparing the meat, poultry, or fish base. For the dish to cook evenly, the base needs to be pounded with a mallet to be as thin and even as possible. If the base is too thick, it may be difficult to get the inside of the meat to completely cook through without burning the outside. A thin base may also make it easier to roll the dish into a log shape once it is stuffed with filling.
Once the base is prepped, it is then covered with a filling. A common filling ingredient in French paupiettes is forcemeat, a dish made from meat that is ground up to make a stiff, semisolid texture. The ground meat may also be mixed with milk, eggs, chopped potatoes, or bread to make a product with a smoother consistency. Other common filling ingredients for a paupiette recipe include chopped vegetables, such as peppers, onions, spinach, or mushrooms, herbs, rice, breadcrumbs, cheese, or fruits, particularly apples.
The filling ingredients are usually spread on top of the thin base in a line down the center of the meat. The filling is generally not spread to the edges of the base in order to make rolling and securing the meat an easier process. After the filling is positioned, the meat is rolled tightly around the filling and secured into place with toothpicks or skewers.
A paupiette can be cooked using a variety of methods. The stuffed meat roll is generally cooked in oil on the stovetop for a short period of time to brown each side of the roll and give it a slightly crisp outer crust. It can then be baked in an oven until the meat cooks all the way through. Some recipes also call for braising, a cooking method in which an item is simmered in hot liquid until it is warmed through. Common braising liquids include wine, broth, or water. After the paupiette is cooked using the preferred method, it is typically sliced into several thin pieces to make serving easier and to show off the inside filling, which forms a swirl-like design from being rolled.