Chicken vol au vents, another comfy dish that appears quite frequently on our table here. A bit old-fashioned maybe but nevertheless extremely tasty! I made my puff pastry vol au vents myself for this recipe (they are very easy to make!) but you can sometimes find them ready-made in a deli or bigger supermarket here in Europe.
I use the freshly made chicken stock to make the white sauce: this makes it very flavorful. You can use milk (or replace half of the stock by milk or cream) if you prefer. Whatever you do: don't throw that rich chicken stock away! Serve the chicken vol au vents with fries and a fresh green salad.
Here am I, preparing my chicken vol au vent for a live cooking show named Savour the Flavour!
Ingredients for 4 to 6 persons
3 lb (1,350 kg) whole chicken
8 medium white mushrooms
1 small yellow onion
10 garlic cloves
1 medium carrot
2 celery stalks
1 fresh rosemary sprig
3 bay leaves
10,5 oz (300 g) pork & veal mince
1 egg yolk, beaten
2 oz (55 g) plain flour
2 oz (55 g) unsalted butter
4 vol au vents
Roughly chop up the celery stalk, carrot and yellow onion. Transfer all this to a high pan and add the fresh rosemary, the garlic cloves, the bay leaves and the cloves. Season generously with pepper and salt.
Cut the whole chicken up into several pieces: legs, wings, breasts and chop up the remaining carcass. Add it to the pan.
Fill the pan with cold tap water (I added about 7 cups or 1,7 l) or until the chicken is fully submerged.
Place the pan over high heat and bring it to a rolling boil. Once boiling, leave it there for 5 to 10 minutes. Then turn the heat low and gently cook the chicken for about 30 minutes. After that turn the heat off, take the chicken off the heat and let it cool down for another 40 to 45 minutes. In the meantime clean the white mushrooms and chop them up into bite-size pieces.
Transfer the pork and veal mince to a bowl and season with pepper and salt. Knead the mince well and roll it into tiny balls of ½ oz (15 g) each. You should end up with about 20 of them. Put them on a clean plate, cover with cling film and store the meatballs in the fridge until needed later.
Remove the cooled cooked chicken from the hot stock (don't throw the stock away but keep it aside to make your white sauce later). Very carefully remove any chicken skin, bones, veins, cartilage or sinew (discard all this) and pick the cooked meat from the bones. Chop the larger bits up roughly. Transfer the chicken meat to a large pan.
Now pour the hot chicken stock through a sieve or colander over a clean large saucepan. I ended up with 6 cups (1,4 l) of flavorful stock. Discard the remaining vegetables in the sieve.
Bring the stock to a gentle boil again. Once warm, add the meatballs and chopped white mushrooms.
Poach them for 4 to 5 minutes. After that remove the meatballs and mushrooms using a slotted spoon and add them to the shredded chicken meat.
Take the chicken stock off the heat now. In a large saucepan melt the unsalted butter over medium heat and add the plain flour.
Whisk well into a wet crumble.
Gently bake this over medium-low heat for 2 minutes to get rid of the floury taste. Add little drops of the warm chicken stock at a time to the baked flour until you get a sticky flour paste. If you add too much at once, the sauce will become lumpy.
Whisk well. Gradually add more chicken stock (about 3 to 4 cups) until you get a pretty runny white sauce.
In the end, remove the white sauce from the heat and add the beaten egg yolk.
Stir quickly so the yolk doesn't scramble. The sauce will thicken a little extra (this egg yolk technique is called a 'liaison' in French). Check the seasoning and add extra pepper or salt to taste if necessary. Pour the white sauce over the cooked chicken meat, meatballs and mushrooms.
Stir carefully. Cover the pan or bowl for 5 minutes and let the vol au vent warm though or place it back over low heat.
Put the vol au vent puff pastry onto plates. Top with the chicken, meatballs and mushrooms, and finish with the puff pastry lid. Serve the chicken vol au vents hot.
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