16 April 2012

Paupiettes of turkey breast

Paupiettes are little packages composed of thin slices of meat rolled up and tied around a lump of a flavorful filling. The filling can be made with meat or with vegetables and usually includes onions and mushrooms either way. The meat is thin — flattened — scallops of either veal, poultry, beef, pork, or fish.

Paupiettes de dinde with peas and carrots

The most common paupiettes you find in France today are paupiettes de veau. But since veal is so expensive, more and more people substitute turkey breast. One of the butchers at the Saturday market in Saint-Aignan makes paupiettes using the breast meat of guinea fowl (pintades). The paupiette is not as much about required ingredients as it is about method.

Flatten the turkey breast slices and add a dollop of stuffing

Walt and I made paupiettes the other day using thin scallops of turkey breast and a filling of ground pork with mushrooms, onions, garlic, and parsley. They turned out perfectly, if I do say so, and it was actually easy to do. I'm planning to make paupiettes soon with some thin slices of beefsteak that I have in the freezer.

Paupiettes rolled and tied, wrapped in strips of bacon

By the way, a "scallop" is a thin slice of boneless meat — une escalope in French, as in escalopes de veau milanaise, thin slices of veal breaded and pan-fried. When made into paupiettes, the thin slice of meat becomes a kind of shell, like a scallop shell, to hold the filling. There's also an old French term escalophe meaning "walnut shell" — same idea...

Paupiettes braised and served with their reduced sauce

The first step in making paupiettes is to pound out the slices of meat to make them as thin as possible. They need to be big enough to wrap around whatever filling you want to use. To flatten the meat slices, you use what in French is called une batte or un attendrisseur — a meat pounder or tenderizer.

First brown the paupiettes in oil or butter...

The second step is to make a filling. Chopped mushrooms and onions, for example, with herbs and bread crumbs, including (or not) a beaten egg as a binder. Or ground meat with the same kind of aromatic ingredients. Some chopped sun-dried tomatoes would be good, and then you could cook and serve the paupiettes in a tomato sauce. Whatever filling you choose to make, it should be highly flavorful, because the meat "shell" is fairly bland.

...and then add liquid, cover the pan, and braise them

The third step in paupiette-making is rolling up and tying off the little packages of scalloped meat with filling inside. It's not that hard to do, but it doesn't hurt if you have somebody to help you by putting a finger on the string as you tie the necessary knots.

The meat pounder or batte/attendrisseur

Spread a meat slice out on a work surface, and put a lump of the filling on top. Stretch and pull the meat, turning up the ends and then the sides to make a little ballotine or package. Wrap the package with a slice or two of bacon to keep the lean meat from drying out too much as it cooks. Then use two or three lengths of kitchen twine to tie up the package as you see in the pictures here.


To cook the paupiettes, first brown them in oil or butter. Then pour on broth, wine, or, for example, tomato sauce and cover the pan to let the little packages cook all the way through — it takes 30 minutes or more. Toward the end of the cooking, take the lid off the pan so that the broth or sauce can reduce and thicken a little. It should be a syrup or glaze that you can serve with the paupiettes and any side dish of vegetables, rice, or pasta you decide to have with them.


  1. And now I know what those little `packages`are at the butcher shop...

    This is a very good concept. Similar to the German Rindsrouladen.

  2. Hi ! I'm a french women, and I read your blog every day to improve my english and I enjoy yours recipes !
    In Provence, we cook slices of beef, with a stuff of pork, onions, garlic, herbs. We cook them in a tomatoes salse (homemade, of course) and add some green olives. The name of this dish is "alouettes sans tête". Try it, it is delicious !
    Lots of love. Françoise

  3. Hello Françoise,

    Alouettes sans têtes is exactly what I plan to make with the thin beefsteaks that I have in the freezer. I've only eaten Alouettes sans têtes once in my life, I think, and it was nearly 40 years ago! I think I'll use the same pork stuffing with sun-dried tomatoes and olives added in. I still have tomato sauce from last year's garden. Merci du gentil commentaire.

    HP, yes, I don't know the German version but "roulade" might be the word we'd use in English for paupiette.

  4. Beef olives! (Olive refers to the appearance of the stuffed beef parcels, not the addition of olives in the recipe.) I learnt to make them at college and haven't done them in years. These days I often make stuffed cabbage leaves, cooked in a tomato sauce in the same way so we are dutifully eating cabbage which is good for us but we don't really like unless it is heavily disguised. Once again, 'food for thought' Ken :-) and thanks to Francoise for sharing her recipe too. I may get really carried away and make both!

  5. That looks so simple and delicious it is going straight to my "Ken from the Loire Valley" recipe index! Merci beaucoup. Louise

  6. It seems to me the terms “paupiettes” and “alouettes sans tête” are interchangeable and probably used depending on the region and the components, but basically they are the same thing.

    Ken, did we ever find what the sauce in “Paupiettes de veau à la Maréchal” was?

  7. CHM, the LG says:

    MARÉCHALE (À la). — Mode de préparation des escalopes, filets de volaille, et autres menues pièces. Les articles préparés ainsi sont panés à l'anglaise et sautés au beurre. Il sont généralement garnis de pointes d'asperges vertes et de truffes.

    Things I've been reading say that oiseaux sans tête is a Belgian name for paupiettes. (I know, each bird has one head!)

    By the way, I made your bread dough this morning. We don't get bread delivered on Mondays. I don't have a Japanese machine, so I'm trying to do it "manually" — using my hands and the KitchenAid stand mixer. I'll take pictures.

  8. Susan, if you don't like cabbage — Walt and I both love cabbage — then it's no wonder you didn't particularly care for the collard greens I served you a couple of years ago! I'm looking forward to making the "beef olives", even though I don't know that name for them. "Headless larks" is the French name...

  9. Ken, thank you for the recipe. It seems to be the same way you did your paupiettes but you improved on it!

    After posting my comment I googled “paupiette” and here is what I found in fr.wiktionary.org/wiki/paupiette

    Paupiette, probably from the Italian “polpetta.”
    Definition: (Cuisine) Rolled slice of meat, filled with a “hachis” and tied up.
    oiseau sans tête (Belgique)
    alouette sans tête

    German: roulade
    English: roulade, paupiette.

    You should succeed with the "Japanese" bread. The machine does nothing that a human couldn't do. My whole cycle is three and a half hours, with one kneading more or less in the middle. Baking is about 50 minutes. Please let me know. I'll be making bread in a few minutes myself.

  10. I first heard the term paupiettes at a restaurant where I worked -- so nice to read your post about yours. Yumm!

  11. I've never had such, but your paupiettes look yummy.
    Welcome Francoise- your recipe from Provence sounds very good.

    CHM tell us more about your Japanese bread.

  12. Hi Evelyn,

    A few days ago I posted my “Japanese” bread recipe on Susan & Simon blog. Here is the link:
    Note there is a typo for the yeast. It is 1 tsp. and not 1 tps [?].

    A use SAF Instant Yeast or Red Star, if you can find it. In fact, when I lived in California, I ordered my SAF yeast and my all purpose flour from King Arthur Flour. I was very happy with their service. I might do that now that I’m unfortunately back in Virginia. LOL

  13. Ken, I recently learned to make rouladen from a German neighbor who lives near our Canadian home. She made hers with moose steak. (My husband says that moose is what beef o
    ught to taste like. It is excellent!) I have made it several times with beef. In Canada the stores sell the meat already cut thin and labeled "rouladen." The filling is a half slice of bacon, chopped onions, a slice of bell pepper, and a dill pickle slice!

  14. Margaret, a dill pickle slice? That reminds me of a trip Walt and I took to Quebec many years ago. We had a steak au poivre in a restaurant, and it came with a big dill pickle sort of floating in the pepper-cream sauce. Strange to us, but why not.

  15. I just sowed some collard greens - it says on the packet that it provides a complete diet for lizards! No wonder S&S didn't like it!

  16. PG, where did you get collard seeds?

  17. I've never had the pleasure of trying those, but they certainly look good.

  18. Hi Ken, I know this is OT but I cant seem to find much else about Saint Aignan & I will be visiting this year..

    Im a little confused as Ive never been here before and on a previous post of yours it is saying that Ambroise is 30 minutes away (or therabouts) yet when I use Google Directions it says its 4 hours away?? I was also told it was quite near Le Mans yet again, it is saying 3 hours??... I would love to plan my vacation in advance and find out what attractions are nearby... Is this correct that its so far away or are there several Saint Aignans??
    If you could let me know a town/village close by that might not share its name with others which I can use as a base point instead I would be so appreciative!!
    I can then read all about the place using your blog before I arrive in August.. :-)
    Thanks again.

  19. Jenna,
    There are several Saint-Aignans in France. The one you need check is Saint-Aignan sur Cher. Here is a wikipedia link to help you locate it.

    Ken is probably fast asleep right now!

  20. Thanks for that recipe, CHM. I'm going to give it a try when I come upon that yeast. There is a Penzy's spice store near my daughter's home and it may carry it.
    I like King Arthur flour which is easy to find here in Alabama.

    Yep, Ken is fast asleep by now.

  21. Jenna/Lisa, I hope CHM's comment got you on the right path. We are in Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher, not one of the others. We are about 15 km up the river from Montrichard, and 15 km down the river from Selles-sur-Cher.


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