“Vol au Vent” means windblown in English. I’m not sure why this historic dish has this name, but it does. And because it is historic, Suzi is saying it is old and has no appeal for her. Hell, I’m old and I think I still appeal to her. But, this dish is another matter.

I’m putting this on my list of “cook when I am by myself during the week when I am supposed to be writing but secretly cook the stuff my wife won’t.” It’s just one of those recipes.

I’m a sucker for puff pastry and cream sauce and chicken and mushrooms. So, what else can I say. I like history.

This dish is easy to prepare, very French, very elegant. Served with a fine white wine, you’ll have dinner guest gushing with pleasure. The conversation will be excellent. Why, you might even discuss history.


Chicken and Wild Mushroom Vol-au-Vent

Yield: serves 6

Ingredients:

  • 1 ounce dried morel mushrooms
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 cups + 6 tablespoons creme fraiche
  • Salt and ground white pepper
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound 2 ounces small white mushrooms
  • ¼ cup packed chervil leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup packed parsley leaves, chopped
  • 6 boneless and and skinless chicken breasts [4 ounces each]
  • 6 vol-au-vent shells [available at your supermarket]

Preparation:

Soak the dried morel and porcini mushrooms in a large bowl of cold water for 1 hour. Lift the mushrooms out of the water and place in colander over a bowl to drain. Then, carefully filter all the soaking water to remove any dirt or sand; reduce over low heat to half the original quantity. Incorporate 2 cups (500 ml) of the creme fraiche and reduce gently over low heat to a smooth, thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper; set the cream sauce aside.

Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in frying pan. Gently sauté both the mushrooms season to taste with salt; set aside.

Wash and finely chop the white mushrooms. Place in a frying pan and cook for 15 minutes. Add the remaining creme and cook other 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped chervil and parsley, season with salt and pepper; set the herbed mushroom mixture aside to keep warm.

Melt the remaining butter in a frying pan. Cook the chicken filets on both sides until lightly colored. Place the fillets flat on a work and cut each one horizontally into two pieces, using a sharp knife cutting across the width, slice into ¾ inch strips.

Preheat the oven to 285°F. Reheat the vol-au-vent shells for 5 minutes. Put the morel and porcini mushrooms into the cream sauce and bring to the boil. Add the chicken slices at the last minute to avoid drying.

Bring the mushroom and chicken sauce quickly to a simmer; pour into a warmed soup tureen. Place a hot vol-au-vent shell on each plate; garnish with the herbed mushroom mixture. Serve immediately.


Source: Savory, The Recipes from Ladurée [Chêne, 2011]