Vol-au-vent

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There are quite a lot of Belgian classics that I love. But koninginnenhapje (vol-au-vent) is right at the top together with stoofvlees (beer & beef stew). Although stoofvlees is something I make every few months, vol-au-vent has always been the food I order in a restaurant, but never make myself. For some reason I was just convinced it was too difficult to try. My mom once made vol-au-vent for a family gathering (but no longer has the recipe) and it was just absolutely delicious, my one goal has always been to try and make one just as good.

The first few steps of the recipe all seemed so easy.. but then I got to the sauce part and it all went wrong. It was just too runny, almost like a soup. I called on my friend Guy for some advice and luckily managed to save the sauce. So for the next batch I made I started with double the amount of butter & flour which helped a lot. If you end up adding too much broth and have a light sauce, there are two things you can do:

  • use cornflour
  • restart the roux (use about half of the original recipe) and gradually add your previous sauce to it

But which ever option you go for, it’s import to know: you will be able to fix it! As this was the only difficult part of the recipe you’ll be flying it throughout the rest, I promise. You can also make this recipe easier by buying ready-made chicken broth/stock, but I decided to make it from scratch. The stock can also be frozen or you can have it as soup as well the next day.

You can serve chips with this recipe (most common side dish in Belgium) or potato croquettes. Whenever I’m home I always go for the croquettes as it’s harder to find in Ireland (or to make yourself). Enjoy!

Vol-au-vent

Vol-au-vent

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Ingredients

Adjust Servings
2 carrots
2 celery sticks
1 leek
2 large onions
1 chicken stock cube
4 chicken breasts on bone
200g chestnut mushrooms
2l water
2 bay leaves
3 twigs of fresh thyme
200g pork mince
1 small egg
2tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
3 twigs of fresh rosemary
75ml cream (can be soy)
1tablespoon curry powder (mild)
2 whole cloves
2 twigs of fresh curly parsley
salt & pepper
60g butter
80g all-purpose flour
8 large vol-au-vent cases
1/2 lemon
1tablespoon nutmeg

Directions

1.
We start by making fresh chicken broth.
Slice up the onion, celery, leek and carrots. It doesn't have to be chopped very small as we're not going to be eating it, it's just to give flavour to the broth.
Melt butter or oil in a deep pot and add the onion and carrots. Let them cook for a few minutes before adding the celery and leek. Add the thyme, parsley, cloves, and rosemary along with the chicken stock cube and the water. Season with pepper (salt optional) and bring to a boil.
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2.
Add the chicken
It is really important that the broth is boiling hot when you add the chicken to avoid it not being cooked properly. Cook for an hour.
Take the chicken out of the broth and let it cool down. Pass the rest of the broth through a sieve to remove all the vegetables. We'll be using the sieved broth later on.
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3.
Mushrooms & meatballs
Wash & slice the mushrooms up into quarters. Heat up butter or oil in a frying pan and cook them until they get that lovely golden-brown colour.
For the meatballs we're going to mix the mince, egg, breadcrumbs with some pepper (salt optional). Roll them into small bite-size meatballs - similar in size to the meatballs you have in soup.
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4.
Heat up a little bit of the sieved broth
Add the meatballs and cook them for a few minutes. Spoon the meatballs out, pour the broth back into the rest.
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5.
Start pulling off pieces of chicken
The size of the chicken pieces is completely up to you, but keep in mind that once they get added to the sauce they will break off more while you're stirring the sauce so I wouldn't go for very finely pulled chicken.
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6.
Let's make the sauce!
Melt the butter at low heat and add the flour. Use a balloon whisk to mix it all together into something that looks like a dough.
Let it 'dry out' a bit, but make sure it doesn't actually start to bake. Stop once you start smelling a biscuity scent.
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7.
Gradually add the sieved broth
Make sure to continue to whisk it all together the entire time. I used all the broth I had left, but if you feel like it's starting to become too thin: stop. It really all depends on how dry the butter/flour mixture was (the more you got it to dry out the more liquid you can add).
Once all the broth has been added, add the cream & curry powder along with the juice of the fresh lemon and nutmeg.
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8.
Reduce the heat of the sauce while baking the pastry cases in the oven
Before popping the pastry cases in the oven, brush them with some of the cream to help them get a lovely golden-brown colour.
Once baked, cut out the top of the pastry case so that you have a little "hat" for your vol-au-vent. Fill each case with a generous amount of vol au vent (do this on your plate so you can make it pour out of the pastry cases). Serve with some fresh parsley & your favourite side dish.
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