Cindy Thomas, January 31, 2016
It’s difficult to know what to expect when reading the name Vol-au-vent. Somehow, it just didn’t sound like food! That’s because it isn’t exactly. The name means “up in the air” or “blown by the wind” and it is referring to the pastry that holds this dish together. Puff pastry is used in this recipe and I opted to buy the frozen dough to speed up the prep time. First the dough is rolled out and cut into cute 3 inch circles. Then the circles are stacked in groups of two and brushed with some egg.
Each top circle is marked ahead of time with a smaller circle that will become the little top hat once these are baked and filled.
They are so pretty when they come out of the oven. A few of mine leaned a bit to one side, but this didn’t matter once they were filled.
While the pastry cools, I made the chicken and mushroom filling. Mimi Thorisson’s recipe calls for sweetbreads to be included in the sauce. I’m just not a fan of sweetbreads and I especially didn’t want to have to prepare them in my kitchen. Sweetbreads are the thymus or pancreas of veal in this recipe. So, yeah, I skipped that part. I’m sure if Mimi herself prepared them, I would happily eat them, but given that she’s in France and I’m here in Oregon, I think I’m pretty safe for now.
First shallots are cooked until soft in lots of butter in the pan, then the chicken is added along with seasonings and a bit of flour. Lemon juice and Armagnac are added as the chicken finishes cooking. Next the mushrooms are cooked in a separate pan in lots more butter. I used chanterelle and cremini mushrooms rather than morels since that is what’s in season here.
Creme fraiche and Armagnac are added to the pan when the mushrooms are cooked through. I didn’t have Armagnac available for this recipe, so I used a brandy aged in french oak instead. Armagnac is a french brandy. Finally, the chicken is added to the mushroom sauce and allowed to cook together briefly.
Then this heavenly chicken and mushroom mixture is spooned into the pastry and garnished with fresh parsley.
We enjoyed this dish as a main course for dinner. Each of us gobbled up two of them! I think if I were to make this again, I would like to make the pastry a bit bigger to make a dinner sized portion. This is a wonderful, rich and delicious meal. And it’s beautiful too!
This recipe can be found in Mimi Thorisson’s cookbook: A Kitchen in France
If you’re interested in joining the Weekends in a French Kitchen group or just want to see how the other members of the group fared with this recipe check out this link: WIFK