Vol-au-vents are French, not Irish, I hear you say. I am officially adopting them as an Irish Christmas appetizer. Whenever family and friends came over for Christmas get-togethers, my mom made these delicious snacks.
I love how these pastry shells can be baked the day before a special occasion and stored for up to 24 hours in an airtight container. The savory filling can also be made in advance. Just before the party, the tops of the pastry shells can be removed with a knife, the center filled with chicken and sauce, then topped with the pastry lid as decoration. The pre-made vol-au-vents can be reheated in a 375 degree F oven for 15 minutes.
Eating a vol-au-vent made me feel ever so grown-up when I was ten or twelve. I was so impressed with Mom for cooking something so fancy. Here is my recipe for puff pastry shells filled with chicken and mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce, just because they remind me of Irish Christmas parties.
Hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
• 18 puff pastry shells
• 1 to 1 and 1/4lb boneless skinless chicken breasts (3 medium breasts)
• 4oz butter (1/2 stick)
• 8oz mushrooms (cut in quarters or eights depending on size)
• 1 clove minced garlic
• 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
• 1/4 cup white wine
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 2 cups chicken stock
• 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
• 1/4 cup whipping cream
• pinch salt and pepper (to taste)
• 1 egg (beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for pastry)
• 1 teaspoon parsley (chopped for garnish)
Liquid for Poaching Chicken:
• 1 onion (peeled and halved)
• 2 and 1/2 cups chicken stock
• 1/2 cup white wine
• pinch salt and pepper
• Thaw and bake the pastry shells according to the package directions. I like to brush them with egg wash to enhance their golden color.
• Poaching the chicken in stock and wine is the next step. Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of a 2-quart saucepan. Add the onion halves and cover with chicken stock and wine. Season the liquid with salt and pepper.
• Turn the heat to high and bring to boiling point. Immediately turn the heat down to low, so that the liquid barely bubbles.
• Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the chicken sit in the hot poaching liquid for 15 more minutes.
• When cooked, remove from the liquid and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.
• Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and sautee for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly golden.
• Add the garlic and thyme and mix. Add the wine, stirring through the mushrooms. Turn the heat to high and return to simmering point. Decrease the heat and allow simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to reduce the volume of wine by half.
• Add the chopped chicken to the mushroom and wine mixture. Turn off the heat and let stand while preparing the cream sauce.
• Melt the last 2 tablespoons of butter in another large skillet. Add the flour and stir well to form a roux. Continue to stir and cook over medium heat for 1 minute.
• Gradually add the chicken stock, whisking continuously to prevent clumping. Bring to simmer and continue to stir and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until sauce thickens.
• Add the dijon mustard and cream and stir well to combine.
• Add the mushroom and chicken mixture to the cream sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to bring to simmering point again. Reduce heat and stir for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and let stand for 5 minutes before filling the pastry shells.
• Fill the pastry shells with 2 to 3 teaspoons of chicken filling. Place the small pastry lid on top as decoration. If the pastry has cooled, return the filled vol-au-vents to a 375 degree F oven for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley, if desired, to serve.