What is a Galantine?

G. Wiesen

Galantine is a dish typically prepared by boning a duck, chicken, fish, or similar animal and then stuffing and rolling this into a cylindrical shape. The boned animal is typically poached or similarly cooked and served cold, usually with a coating of gelatin or aspic. Galantine is a French dish that has been prepared for centuries and if prepared today can still be a noteworthy dish that induces a fair amount of comment and admiration from those at a dinner table.

Galantine is usually served cold with a coating os aspic.
Galantine is usually served cold with a coating os aspic.

Depending on the steps being taken, usually concerning just how elaborate and impressive a galantine someone wishes to make, the process of making this dish can often take several days. Considering one common method for making this dish, the process begins by deciding upon the ingredients to be used as the base of the forcemeat. Forcemeat is a mixture of meat and fat prepared for use in dishes such as sausages, pâtés, and roulades by grinding or otherwise emulsifying it into a consistency that is fairly smooth.

In the most traditional and elaborate recipes for galantine, this mixture of meat and fat, often pork, is cured overnight before being ground together. A duck, goose, chicken, fish, or other similarly sized animal is then thoroughly boned and opened as much as possible. The bones should be kept for the poaching liquid that the galantine will ultimately be cooked in. Additional pieces of meat, vegetables, or other ingredients are then layered with the forcemeat inside the poultry or fish.

The boned animal is then rolled up tightly with the mixture of forcemeat and other flavorings securely sealed within. This is held closed with a skewer, then the entire thing is wrapped in muslin or something similar and tied to keep it sealed during cooking. The entire bundle is placed in a large stockpot along with the reserved bones and any other spices and additional flavorings, along with some liquid and then poached.

Once it is completely cooked, the galantine and the strained poaching liquids are refrigerated until completely cooled, often overnight. The poaching liquid is then clarified and cooked down to about one-half or two-thirds its original volume. Gelatin is also added to ensure that the aspic is sufficiently rubbery. This aspic is then cooled until reaching a consistency like syrup and is then brushed generously over the chilled galantine. Decorations such as chopped vegetables or nuts can then be added, with additional layers of aspic brushed on and allowed to chill, building up a coating of gelatin that holds the decoration in place. The dish is then served cold, usually sliced fairly thin and can be served with traditional condiments such as Dijon mustard.

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