Is there anything a vol-au-vent can't do? Dress them up with poached oysters and caviar or make fast friends with chicken and white wine. The key to success with this recipe is using a really well-flavoured stock to make the velouté. If you're making the stock with the bones from your roast chicken, consider throwing in some browned chicken wings and a piece of kombu to boost the flavour. The vol-au-vent cases can be prepared a day ahead, and filled and heated just before serving.
- 750 gm (2 sheets) butter puff pastry (see note)
- 55 gm butter
- 55 gm plain flour
- 50 ml dry white wine
- 400 ml brown or golden chicken stock
- 1 tbsp pouring cream
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tsp water, for eggwash
- 1 small chicken (1kg-1.2kg), roasted, meat shredded
- Watercress, to serve
- 1Line baking trays with baking paper and roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface, lifting and turning to keep it even, to 3mm thick, place on trays and refrigerate to firm (20-30 minutes). Cut out 3cm-diameter rounds with a pastry cutter, then refrigerate until firm (20-30 minutes). Cut out the centres of half the rounds with a 2cm cutter to form rings (see note), then refrigerate until required.
- 2Make a velouté by melting butter in a saucepan over high heat until it's foaming and smells nutty (2-4 minutes). Add flour and stir until sandy coloured (3-4 minutes), then stir in wine. Gradually add stock, stirring well between additions until smooth, then bring to the boil, whisking occasionally. Remove from heat, whisk in cream and season to taste. Cool to room temperature, then transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, whisking occasionally, until thick and chilled (1½-2 hours).
- 3Meanwhile, preheat oven to 180C. Brush around edges of pastry rounds with eggwash, top with pastry rings, aligning edges and brush ring tops with eggwash (be careful not to brush the sides as this will stop them rising). Bake vol-au-vents, pressing down in the centres occasionally, until puffed, golden and crisp (15-30 minutes). Set aside on trays until required. Vol-au-vents can be cooled and stored for up to a day in an airtight container at this point.
- 4Combine chicken meat and velouté in a bowl and season to taste, then fill vol-au-vents with mixture and bake until golden and filling is bubbling (10-12 minutes). Top with watercress and serve warm.
Carême butter puff pastry comes in 375gm sheets. Sprinkle the leftover pastry rounds with parmesan or cheddar and bake for cheesy snacks.