My favourite butcher shop, Sergio Falaschi, which is one of the reasons why we bought a house in San Miniato (joking — sort of!) has one of the prettiest and enticing counters, it could compete with any pastry shop window. It is run by my friend Andrea, Sergio’s son, and they are the fourth and third generation to run this shop, with great care for the products, and in turn the heirloom breed animals and local farmers they work with (see my last post all about their prosciutto di Cinta Senese). I’ve always loved walking through the butcher section in the Florentine markets to marvel at what they have on display, offering not only all the classics, from the most rustic to the most sought after cuts, but also an array of inventive, creative and delicious prepared meats ready to simply take home to cook.
At Falaschi, they have things like cotolette (flattened out crumbed chicken thighs with the bone still attached), collo ripieno (stuffed chicken necks), roast pork wrapped and tied with lardo and rosemary, fegatelli in the winter season (pork liver wrapped in caul fat and stored in lard, my husband’s favourite dish) and spiedini. I love their boiled beef polpette, ready to take home to fry until golden brown (delicious with salsa verde) and their filetto in crosta (below), which is a delicious pork loin rolled in finely chopped rosemary, garlic, thyme and fennel seed. It’s pushed into the crust of an emptied out baguette and the whole thing is wrapped in pancetta. They’re sold like this, ready for roasting for about 20 minutes in a hot oven.
They also sell some cooked dishes too, including ready made ragus, insalata russa (Russian or Olivier salad) and pollo in galantina, which is a classic Italian family dish, popular in Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. It’s rather like a meatloaf wrapped inside a chicken and is a dish that I’ve heard being called “a forgotten dish” but it is one still often made for important celebrations like Christmas, when there is broth being made (important for the obligatory tortellini) and plenty of people around the table to feed. It was once considered a noble dish, prepared with time and care for that special occasion.
I recently spent some time in the kitchen at the back of the butcher shop — which, before the pandemic, did a roaring trade as a restaurant — with Lina, Andrea’s mamma (those are her hands above, chopping vegetables for the insalata russa) and she showed me how she makes her glorious pollo in galantina for the shop, to share here on my blog.
Lina’s Pollo in Galantina or Stuffed Chicken
Pollo in Galantina di Lina da Sergio Falaschi Macelleria, San Miniato
Lina uses a deboned, butterflied chicken with the wings still attached whole but the legs boned out (in Italy a whole chicken, in particular free range, local ones like the ones they have at Falaschi’s butcher shop, weigh about 1 kg whole). And she uses a large sewing needle and kitchen string to sew it all up! It is ideal to start this dish 24 hours before you want to serve it so that the chicken can chill and set in the fridge. It will be easier to slice after this. See this instagram post for some helpful videos of Lina making this!
For the chicken stuffing:
1/2 small white onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
small handful of fresh parsley, chopped
600 grams minced veal and pork (Lina prefers mostly veal, with a small quantity of pork)
1 egg, beaten
40 grams grated Parmesan
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt and pepper
1 piece of boiled beef tongue in brine (lingua salmistrata), diced (or if you don’t have it perhaps try diced mortadella)
150 grams of prosciutto, diced
a handful of blanched peas
a handful of pistachios, toasted lightly (optional)
1 deboned chicken, approximately 800 grams in weight
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled
For the broth:
1 stick of celery
1 bay leaf
Enough water to cover
Combine the onion, garlic, parsley in a large bowl with the minced veal and pork. Add the beaten egg and mix through, along with a good pinch of salt, a good grinding of pepper, Parmesan and nutmeg. Mix until well combined then add the diced tongue, prosciutto, peas, and pistachios (if using), until well distributed.
Now take the deboned, butterflied chicken and place it skin side down on a board. Sprinkle over salt and pepper and rub it in. Place about half the stuffing on the chicken and then arrange the two boiled eggs inside then cover with the rest of the stuffing mixture. Sew the chicken back up with kitchen string, closing it entirely and securely. You can (and should) also tie the chicken as you would a good roast pork.
Heat the oven to 160C. In a large dutch oven place the vegetables for the broth and the bay leaf, along with the tied chicken and add water to cover. Cover and let it cook gently for 1-1 1/2 hours. You can also boil it on a stove top but be careful to cook it gently and slowly so that it doesn’t break open. Remove pan from the heat and allow it to cool entirely in the broth. Once cool, pull off the wings and set them aside, then you can slice the pollo in galantina easily — not too thin, not too thick (hint, the more chilled it is, the easier it is to slice thinly, which is why you should do this the day before you would like to serve it and keep it in the fridge). You can eat this cold or warm. To serve it warm, reheat the slices with some of the broth.
Serve the pollo in galantina with salsa verde and salsa tonnato (tuna mayonnaise), piping hot boiled potatoes, pickles or Olivier salad (insalata russa).
Notes: Some like to prepare a broth beforehand, using the bones of the chicken, so if you’ve deboned your own chicken that would be a very good idea to not waste the bones! Also at the end of the cooking, you should definitely keep the broth to make a minestrone or some other warming, comforting dish. It’ll be delicious.
Thank you to the Falaschi family for their generosity and time!