It’s origin is probably the classic French Galantine de Poulard, and for the last 40 years, I don’t recall ever eating a memorable Galantina, our localized adaptation to the classic dish. We never made this in our home, but often got them as presents and I was never thrilled with a slice of this served with some crackers or on bread. It always figured in Holiday buffets, simply because it was there. My wife’s family are far more the Galantina converts, they having grown up with a cook who was fantastic and made this dish very well. So it surprised me when one of the most requested dishes for the Christmas holidays from Marketmanila readers was for a decent Galantina… so here is my first attempt… not the finest result but with my suggestions, you guys can probably pull off a very decent Galantina indeed. And don’t let the descriptions intimidate you, this is really easy to do (follow the suggested shortcuts)…
First debone a large chicken or two smaller chickens. I thought I would be ridiculous and debone the birds myself. Big mistake. Ask the butcher or your market suki to de-bone them for you. Gosh, how simple is that. Next rinse the birds and pat them dry with paper towels. I marinated the whole de-boned chicken in calamansi juice, salt and pepper as suggested in a recipe attributed to Dolores Veloso Paterno in The Philippine cookbook…but frankly, if I were you, I wouldn’t bother…just do the following instead… take the de-boned chicken and smack it a few times with a meat pounder to try and flatten out the breasts (geez, that sentence is amusing), then all salt and pepper. Next prepare the stuffing or forcemeat. I used chopped ham, some bacon sauteed with onions and the some uncased sausage meat, some pickles, olives, roasted red peppers, golden raisins, vienna sausage (yikes is right, but I just had to try it this way), hard boiled eggs. Use what makes you happy, but essentially you are looking for finely ground or chopped meat (pork primarily, though veal would work too) – essentially I tried to have salty and sweet flavors, color, moisture, etc.
Then mix this all up and stuff the chicken and lay strips of pickles and eggs so that the cross-section cut of the final product looks interesting. Sew up the bird, or if on the shortcut mode, simply wrap it very tightly in cheesecloth and tie it with string or the silicone ties that I featured here before. Then submerge it in chicken stock with onions, peppercorns, carrots, parsley and other seasonings and simmer until done, roughly 1 hour for a large chicken. Remove from the broth and let it cool, then either leave it in the cheesecloth or unwrap it and transfer it to some aluminum foil and wrap it TIGHTLY and store in the fridge for at least a day. Slice the Galantina and serve cold or at room temperature. Some folks make a gravy from the broth to serve alongside the Galantina.
Marketman’s Galantina came out looking pretty good for a first attempt ever. But it was a bit dry, lacked flavor and felt like it shouldn’t have been the object of so many pleas from readers for a recipe. So what did I do wrong? I went back and reviewed several French recipes to find out what the underpinnings of our local version were… many ingredients were similar, though the French versions typically have shelled pistachios for color and flavor, dried fruits such as chopped apricots, herbs such as thyme and cornichons (aha! I knew there was a reason for putting those blasted sweet pickles). I also noticed that some folks would cheat and add small bits of cubed bread soaked in sherry or white wine or perhaps even milk so that VOILA! it didn’t turn out too dry! The French also simmered it in broth, though some Filipino recipes, including the one of my wife’s family’s cook, uses a steamer which makes sense to me as the flavors don’t just leech out to the broth. So here is the final analysis and Marketman’s suggestions for your Galantina this Christmas… Buy your chicken de-boned. Get the biggest one you can find say 1.5-2.0 kilos. If you can afford it, use a free-range bird for added flavor. Next, balance your stuffind so it isn’t overly dry or overly salty or overly sweet. I would suggest you saute the onions, ground meats, etc. in advance. Axe the vienna sausage, it is just too bizarre for words. Use chopped apricots if you have them, golden raisins as a second alternative or black raisins in a pinch (they look like garapata or engorged ticks to me, no?). I would recommend some bread soaked in milk or white wine for moisture. Stuff the bird fully and tie it up tight like your life depended on it. Either simmer it for 40-45 minutes (but make sure it is cooked) or steam it for the same amount of time for less flavor loss (I suspect). Definitely serve it with gravy. Use a VERY sharp knife to cut it. Enjoy!