Chicken and lettuce: a Heston repro

So this is a shameless reproduction of a course I had at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which means that unfortunately I can’t take any sort of genius points for this one. As with many knock offs there were some things which the original had that mine did not. Firstly, I couldn’t find any oyster leaves and I also couldn’t be bothered to pipe little extra bits of celeriac purée around the plate. I also think Heston might have just edged it in the lettuce and chicken departments, ok he definitely did, BUT and I want to say a big but, while this may not be number five restaurant in the world worthy, it was really very good. If you have a sous vide machine I would definitely give this one a go. And if you don’t have a sous vide machine, then turn your attention towards the sauce I made for this bad boy; it might just be the best thing I’ve ever made… with the celeriac purée a close second. For those of you well acquainted with the sous vide machine you will notice that the temperature I suggested for cooking the chicken seems quite low. The first time I made this I cooked the chicken for two hours at 62C and it was verging on dry, my guess would be something about the pounding of the meat means it dries out quickly. However, if you are very adept and can form the breast into a pretty ballotine shape without bashing the chicken then maybe keep it at 62C. Also, if you plan to cook the purée and the chicken sous vide and only have one machine then allow around five hours to make this but if you have two or you are skipping a component then this should take about two and a half hours. Anyhow, as always, let me know how you get on and if you have any insights!

Ingredients (serves 2)

For the celeriac:
Please see: Sous vide celeriac purée

For the chicken breast:
2 breasts of chicken
1 small knob of butter
A pinch of salt
A pinch of pepper

For the chicken skin:
2 chicken breast skin or large thigh skin
1 very small sprinkle olive oil
2 large pinches salt
2 pieces baking paper

For the onion emulsion:
3 chicken wings
1 thickly sliced banana shallot
1/2 clove smoked garlic
2 sprigs thyme
60 g of sliced celeriac
75 ml marsala
250 good quality chicken stock

For the braised lettuce:
2 baby gem lettuces
1 knob butter
15 ml chicken stock
A pinch of salt


  • Start by making your celeriac purée. Recipe here.
  • Once you’ve finished making your purée, cool down your sous vide machine to 60C.
  • Meanwhile, you can get started with your chicken. If you bought chicken breasts with skin then remove the skin. Usually you can just carefully pull it away but you might need to use scissors at some points. Reserve the skin for later.
  • If your chicken breast is particularly uneven, put it between two pieces of cling film on a chopping board and give the bigger side a whack with a rolling pin/wine bottle.
  • Rub the chicken in a little bit of butter, salt and pepper. Then take a fresh, large piece of cling film (you want a lot of space around the breast) and place your chicken breast on top. Roll the chicken into a cylindrical shape using the cling film to facilitate this process. You should see a reasonably loose sausage shape forming and cling film at either side. Grab hold of the cling film at each side and lift the ballotine up, then pretend you are taking the ballotine skipping, swing the ballotine a full 360 degrees in one direction repeatedly. This should cement the form of the ballotine and the chicken “sausage” should start to appear shorter and plumper. Then tightly knot each side of cling film closely to the ballotine. Pictures below.
  • If your sous vide machine hasn’t cooled yet then pop the ballotine in the fridge as this will help it hold its form. When ready, vacuum seal the ballotine and place it in the 60C sous vide machine.
  • After the chicken has been cooking for an hour and a quarter you need to start thinking about your other components. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  • If you are using chicken thighs then the same technique applies as with the breast. The skin should pull away easily if you find the right starting point, which generally means unfurling the thigh and finding a “corner”, if not use scissors or a knife to release the skin. Cover the skin in the oil and salt. Then place in between two pieces of parchment paper in between two baking trays, the smaller one should sit on top. The skin will need about 30 minutes to crisp up.
  • If the oven hasn’t heated up yet then start to crack on with your sauce. Start by melting a knob of butter and a little oil in a pan over a medium high heat. When hot add in the shallot, celeriac, thyme, garlic and chicken wings. When they have got nice and browned all over, add in the marsala. Simmer for about a minute then add in the stock. Boil until the sauce has reduced to a desired consistency. Then turn off the heat.
  • Get cracking on the lettuce. Cut the lettuces in half lengthways and remove the tiny leaves at the center. Then trim the root in a v shape but make sure to keep the lettuce in tact. Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the lettuce for 1 minute. Pour the lettuce into a colander and run cold water over it. When cool, pat the lettuce dry.
  • If the skin is ready, turn off the oven.
  • When the chicken breast is done, pull it out of the sous vide machine and pat it dry. Add a little butter to a frying pan and bring to the heat. When hot, add the chicken breast and brown the sides. Then remove from the pan and leave to rest on a chopping board.
  • Now you just have to finish everything off. Either reheat your celeriac purée on the hob or put it in a vacuum bag and back in the sous vide.
  • Fry a little butter in another sauce pan and add the lettuce. After 1 minute add stock and boil it down for about 40 seconds so as to leave a sticky film over the lettuce.
  • Strain your sauce or just pick out the thyme, celeriac, chicken wings and most of the onions, add a little butter and reheat.
  • Then all you have to do is slice the ends of the chicken ballotine diagonally (for presentation) and assemble.

With this plating, I put a swipe of celeriac purée, then poured on some of the sauce, placed the ballotine on top of the purée, the skin on top of the ballotine and the lettuce on top of the sauce to the side of the ballotine.



    • Ali Stopford says:

      Thanks and your wife is a very lucky woman! I found that the celeriac was really smoky at Dinner (almost too smoky) so I only used a bit of smoked garlic in the celeriac puree but if she liked it v smoky then amp it up a bit. Also, if you do ever get around to making this version please will you send me a picture to Would be such a cool/niche one to have on my “Made by YOU” page. Good luck and I hope the recipe’s okay!


  1. Pingback: How to make Labneh cheese at home | Stop! Food!

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