French in origin, this term refers to meat that has been rolled into a circular shape and filled with a stuffing of ingredients that enhance the flavor of the meat being prepared. Beef, pork, veal, turkey, chicken, and fish are common meats that are boned, cut and formed, or pounded into thin, flexible pieces that are rolled and tied to keep the filling secure as it cooks inside the meat. As an example, Ballotine de poulet would be poultry stuffed with a filling. Common stuffings may include a mousse prepared with herbs, ground meat such as sausage mixed with spices, or complimentary meats such as bacon, pork, pancetta, ham, and veal that are cooked within other meats.
Almost always served warm, a Ballotine may be confused with galantine which is similarly rolled and stuffed, but is served cold rather than warm. Galantine is traditionally prepared and wrapped within a cheese cloth or baking paper covering. It is then poached in a base stock, refrigerated and served cold by slicing off pieces or the rolled meat.