Chicken Vol-au-Vent

So rich, yet delicate and so comforting, a perfect dish for the fall. It is also a wonderful way to use any leftover roasted chicken with loads of vegetables. This is a dish my mother used to make all the time. Growing up, we used to find Vol-Au-Vent in all the patisseries. Today, it is not something we see anymore and it is too bad. Instead of making a full flaky pastry, here is a short cut, which will take half the time and provide wonderful results. Creamy, rich with a wonderful sauce. This version is a little more sophisticated with the addition of a good shot of Cognac flambé at the last minute. I was brought up in a home where every single morsel of food counted ! My father owned and operated a grocery store and fed a family 12 children. Very early on, I realized my mom was a Master Chef at creating dishes using spotted fruits and ‘mature’ vegetables and reinventing dishes according to what we had in the fridge. Here is a perfect example of a dish prepared with leftover roasted chicken. If you want to challenge yourself and your baking skills, you can serve this beautiful dish with flaky pastry called Vol-Au-Vent, which means “fly with the wind” The recipe is provided below.

INGREDIENTS
250 Gr. cooked chicken – cut in small cubes
3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons All purpose flour
1 Cup Hot Milk – Hot a in the microwave for a minute)
1 Cup Chicken Broth
1 Large onion roughly chopped
2 Carrots cut in halves and sliced – Steam the carrots until firm to the tooth
2 Celery branches sliced thinly
12 White mushrooms sliced thinly
1/2 Cup of frozen green peas
Salt & Pepper to taste
Hot Paprika to taste
2 Tablespoons Cognac

INSTRUCTIONS
In a small saucepan, melt the butter at medium heat and when it starts to bubble, add 2 tablespoons of all-purpose flour and mix well. Cook for 2 minutes, mixing constantly to ensure the flour is cooked. Slowly add the hot milk whilst mixing, using a whisk. Mix very well until the sauce starts to thicken.
Add the chicken broth and if you have leftover sauce from the roast, now is the time to add it. Mix well and continue to cook at very low heat.
In a separate saucepan, melt the remaining butter and saute the onions, celery and mushrooms until they start to brown on the edges. Add the cognac and warm it up. Light up a match and flambe the cognac to burn the alcohol. Pour everything in the sauce and add the carrots, green peas. Salt & Pepper !

TIP DU JOUR : Easy enough. Make a large batch and freeze half of it for another meal.
You can also serve it like a Chicken Pot Pie and cover the thick sauce with a pie crust.
One other option would be to cover the sauce with mashed potatoes for a lovely “Sheppard pie”

QUICK FLAKY PASTRY
200 Gr. very cold butter (I cut the butter and keep it in the freezer)
250 Gr. all purpose flour
10 Gr. Sugar
3 Gr. Salt
125 Ml. iced cold water

Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, stir in the flour, sugar and salt. Add all the butter pieces and mix for about half a minute until the butter is incorporated and the dough ressemble a rough sand with nuggets of butter.
Quickly add half the water and mix to form a ball.
The trick is to not overmix the dough – A very important step.
Pour the mixture on a work surface covered with cling film and form a ball. Do not knead the dough – Keep it rough to just barely keeping it together.
Cover with cling film and place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
After the period, using a very cold surface, like marble for instance, pour a little flour on your work surface and using a rolling pin, create a thin rectangle of approximately 30cm long, by 20cm wide.
Fold the dough sheet in third; i.e. the top part down to a third of the dough. Then fold the bottom part towards the top third of the dough.
Give it a quarter turn and it should look like a folded book.
Roll the dough to recreate the same rectangle size shape and fold again.
Place in the freezer covered with cling film, for another 30 minutes.
Repeat the same exercise and fold the dough twice more. A total of 4 folds should suffice.
Using a cookie cutter, create twelve round disks and brush them with egg yolk.
Preheat the oven at 220 Celsius and bake for 12-15 minutes.
Do not open the oven door….
They should triple in height. Once out of the oven, make a dent and pour the sauce over the pastry shell.

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