The culinary history of chicken cushions have yet to be thoroughly researched, but it is believed that are French in origin.
The closest cousin of this culinary creation may have been “Paupiettes of Veal” which were made from thin slices of veal approximately 5 in (12 cm) long by 2 inches (5 cm) wide cut from either the cushion or under cushion. After having lightly flattened and trimmed the slices, cover them with a layer of forcemeat in keeping with their preparation, roll up into the shape of a cork, wrap in a thin layer of salt pork fat and tie them round with thread so that they keep their shape while cooking.
The description of the veal recipe was written by Georges Auguste Escoffier (1846 – 1935) a French chef,restaurateur and culinary writer who popularized and updated traditional French cooking methods. He is a legendary figure among chefs and gourmets, and was one of the most important leaders in the development of modern French cuisine. Le Guide culinaire was Escoffier’s attempt to codify and streamline the French restaurant food of the day.The first edition was printed in 1903 in French. The second edition, an abridged English translation was published in 1907 as A Guide to Modern Cookery. By 1912, the third edition and the current fourth edition were published in 1921, respectively. This usage of the book still holds today; many culinary schools still use it as their culinary textbook.
In any event, I discovered these chicken cushions while on holiday in London and was complete taken by them. My first experience with a chicken cushion was chicken breast, stuffed with a bread filling and neatly wrapped in a slice of bacon. It was amazing.
With this recipe, I experimented a bit using a lobster stuffing which had spectacular results. It is the perfect dish that you can use to impress your friends and family at your next dinner party.
Serves 6 to 8
1 steamed lobster (1 1/2 pounds)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
6 scallions, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup heavy cream
A Pinch of cayenne pepper
Salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 ounces fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg yolk
8 boneless chicken leg and thigh quarters, with skin
8 slices bacon
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Position rack in center.
Remove all the meat from the lobster and roughly chop. Set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add scallions and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Add lobster meat and wine, stir quickly to combine over high heat. Drain mixture, reserving the liquid. Set lobster and scallion mixture aside. Melt remaining better in another skillet. Add flour and cook slowly to make blonde roux, without deep brown coloring or for about 5 minutes. Add reserved liquid to the cream. Cook, constantly stirring until mixture begins to thicken. Stir lobster meat back into the roux, add cayenne and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to cool completely. Add the breadcrumbs and egg yolk; mix with a wooden spoon. Cover with plastic wrap and place the lobster filling in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
Rinse chicken quarters and pat dry. Put the de-boned chicken quarters on a large chopping board with the skin downwards. Trim any fat from around the edges. Place the quarters, 1 at a time, between two sheets of waxed paper and gently pound with a meat mallet until about 3/8-inch thick. Remove wax paper and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the lobster filling from the refrigerator.
Spoon the filling in the center of the chicken. Fold the chicken so that the stuffing is enclosed. Take a slice of bacon and wrap around the circumference of the bundle. Tie with string, like the spokes of a wheel, adjusting the string and patting the chicken into shape to form a round cushion.
Lightly oil a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Place the cushions skin side up in the baking pan. Brush with the oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast in a preheated oven, at 375°F for 20 to 35 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 30 minutes and baste the chicken once or twice with pan juices until a deep golden brown and cooked when tested.
Allow the cushions to cool, remove the string and cut into wedges and serve with your favorite side dishes.
To learn how to de-bone a whole chicken see this video at the following link at The Scott Rea Project
To learn how to de-bone a chicken quarter, see the video at the following link: Good To Know