Can we say it's been awhile? I didn't plan to step away for an entire month, but life happens. July had plans of it's own and then August rolled in, school was back in full swing and all of a sudden I was studying for the music history seminars. My brain hasn't had a dull moment in ages, I am partially recovered from the hours I spent listening to J.S Bach (St Matthew Passion, anyone?) and now have to prepare for the next seminar this week. Meanwhile Il Divo is still at the top of my playlist along with new guy Harrison Craig, Mozart will have to take second place somewhere, music history or not. I can't say that music and food don't somehow go together, so we will collaborate the two.
One of my very highly favored and much loved bloggers, Mimi Thorisson, came out with an absolutely stunning cookbook last fall, A Kitchen in France (2014), which I cannot get enough of. Between her blog and book, I have a pretty long list of recipes I intend to make, and this happens to be one of them. Vol-au-vent is simply a puff pastry shell, the rest is up to our imaginations and boy is this one good! Straight out of Mimi's book, I had to adapt it a bit to fit the ingredients available within my grocery store and pantry.
The original recipe calls for veal sweetbreads, you guessed it; don't even try the grocery store. I am learning the hard way that the supermarkets simply don't have it all (nor do all butcher shops). In choosing my battles, I did go out foraging for mushrooms with my wonderful brother-in-law, who could fish and forage for mushrooms everyday if he could. I don't think I could have gotten out of that forest without him either. Replace the cream/sour cream mixture with creme fraiche if you have it, because I didn't and that was my method of substitution.
Chicken & Wild Mushroom Vol-au-vent
Serves 8 - 10
- 2 lb frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Chicken & Wild Mushroom filling
- 10 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 2 shallots, thinly sliced
- 24 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into strips
- salt & freshly gourd black pepper
- 1/4 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 2 Tbsp Cognac
- 12 oz mixed mushrooms, freshly forged and seasonal, cleaned
- 3/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- fresh parsley for garnishing
- For the pastry shells: heat your oven to 400 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, unfold your thawed puff pastry and using a cookie cutter, cut out as many 3-inch round disks as will fit on a sheet (about 9 each).
- Next, using a 2-inch cookie cutter, mark, do not cut thru completely, half of the disks in order to be able to cut out the centers once baked, to form the necessary shells.
- Transfer the unmarked disks onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with beaten egg. Next place the marked disks on top of each of the unmarked one and brush again with the egg.
- Bake pastries until gold and well risen, about 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool for about 5 minutes before cutting out 2-inch caps and removing some of the pastry to make room for the filling. Set aside to cool completely.
- For the filling: make sure your mushrooms are well cleaned and cut into smaller pieces if necessary. You can also boil them prior to use if you prefer. Simply fill a pot with water and mushroom, bring to a boil, drain and repeat, adding some salt for seasoning on the second round.
- Melt 5 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet, add shallots and cook until softened, 5 minutes. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle on the flour followed by thyme. Add the lemon juice, bring to a simmer and cook until chicken is done, about 10 minutes. Stir in cognac, take off heat and cover.
- In another large skillet, melt remaining 5 Tbsp of butter, add the mushrooms and cook until softened (if you cooked the mushrooms prior, just cook drained mushrooms until heated through). Season with salt and pepper.
- Combine sour cream and heavy cream in separate bowl and add to the mushrooms, remove from heat. Whether in a skillet or a separate bowl, combine cooked chicken with the mushroom sauce, reheat if necessary.
- Portion filling into the cooled pastry shells, garnish with the parsley and serve immediately. Enjoy!