Chicken, Gruyere & paprika vol-au-vents,
Colin Fassnidge is celebrating our party issue with a retro food revival of the vol-au-vent, and is on the case to explain to a confused Anthony Puharich just what it is they’ll be eating.
C It’s the delicious. party issue: enter the vol-au-vent!
A Every day is a party! Is it all right to admit I don’t know what a vol-au-vent is? Never in my life have I had one.
C You have had a vol-au-vent, but you probably called it a pie or something. A No. Never. I don’t get it. C Right then, we’ll educate you. We’ll start with chicken thigh meat for the filling. A Yes, a great cut of meat – juicy, tender. C Absolutely, And we’re going to poach the thigh fillets in stock so they’ll be really nice and moist.
A Yeah, poaching thigh fillets always keeps them nice and juicy, and thigh meat is always the best bit of the chicken.
C For once, you’re right. Thigh is the best bit.
A Right. So, is this going to taste nice? Is chicken what you put in a vol-au-vent?
C Yeah, or mushroom. But yeah, chicken is classic. Chicken, like a veloute. A Okay, so it’s wrapped in pastry? C Yeah, it’s like puff pastry. Everyone buys ready-made vol-au-vent cases, and I’m no different. A Store-bought cases? C No one makes vol-au-vent cases. Life is too short to make them; there’s too much rosé to drink. If you have time to make puff pastry, I don’t want to know you. A Right. Why are we reviving these? C Because everything that once was cool is now cool again. It’s like… our kids, who haven’t had vol-au-vents… we’re bringing our nostalgia to the kids and they’re going to own it. I still can’t believe you’ve never had a vol-au-vent – it’s like saying you’ve never had a prawn cocktail!
A I’ve had a prawn cocktail! How come I missed out on vol-au-vents?
C You were upstairs. Sitting on the stairs, looking down in your short pyjamas at the adults’ dinner party.
A How much rosé have you had?
CHICKEN, GRUYERE & PAPRIKA VOL-AU-VENTS MAKES 24
1L (4 cups) chicken stock 4 skinless chicken thigh fillets 2 tsp olive oil 5 thin slices prosciutto 25g unsalted butter, chopped 2 tbs plain flour 2 cups (500ml) milk 2 tbs finely chopped tarragon leaves 1/ 3 cup (40g) finely grated Gruyere, plus extra to serve 1/4 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton), plus extra to serve 24 store-bought vol-au-vent pastry cases (from selected supermarkets and grocers) 1 egg, lightly beaten Chervil sprigs (substitute tarragon
or parsley leaves), to serve Preheat the oven to 180°C.
To cook the chicken, place stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil over high heat. Add chicken and return to the boil. Remove from heat, cover and stand for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool. Finely chop chicken and toss through a pinch of salt flakes. Set aside.
Meanwhile, place oil and prosciutto in a frypan over medium-high heat. When hot, cook prosciutto for 1-2 minutes each side or until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towel. Set aside for 5 minutes to cool slightly, then finely chop 4 slices and place in a bowl. Break remaining 1 slice prosciutto into small pieces and set aside.
To make the bechamel, melt butter in a saucepan over high heat. Add flour and cook, whisking, for 2 minutes or until thickened. Gradually add milk, whisking well after each addition. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, whisking, for 3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir through tarragon, Gruyere, paprika, chopped chicken and chopped prosciutto.
When ready to serve, arrange pastry cases on a baking tray, brush with egg and bake for 6-8 minutes or until golden.
Fill warm pastry cases with warm or cooled chicken mixture. Sprinkle with broken prosciutto pieces, extra Gruyere and paprika, and chervil, if using, to serve.