I have always loved ‘bouchée à la Reine’ – this classic starter is exactly what I love about French cuisine – elegant and old-fashioned. I like to have it simply as a main course with a salad on the side. It’s the kind of food you would buy at the ‘traiteur’ (delicatessen) or served at your great-aunt’s house for a ‘Proustian’ lunch. My simplified version of this small puff pastry includes chicken, morel mushrooms, onions, white wine and a bechamel sauce. It looks so dressed up, with a little hat on top. I love making this meal on the week-ends, and as I do a lot of cooking, I buy ready-made pastry shells, available in most supermarkets. All you have to do is the filling, bechamel sauce, and heat up the shells. If you can’t find morel mushrooms, you can replace with any mushrooms of your choice whether they are fresh, canned or dried.
8 vol-au-vent pastry shells
3 chicken filets, diced
70 grs/ 1/2 cup morel mushrooms, chopped (or any mushroom of your choice)
1 small onion, chopped
30 grs/ 2 tbsp butter
15 ml/ 1 tbsp white wine
Handful of chopped parsley
60 grs/ 1/4 cup butter
40 grs/ 1/4 cup flour
480 ml/ 1 cup milk
a pinch of thyme
1/2 cube chicken stock, crumbled
half a glass of wine (optional)
Coarse salt and pepper for seasoning
In a pan, fry the onion in the butter until soft and golden, add the diced chicken and fry for 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and fry 4-5 minutes – add the white wine and let the sauce reduce for 3 minutes. Set aside.
Pre-heat oven 150° celsius.
Prepare the bechamel sauce – melt the butter in a casserole, and gradually add the flour and the milk with a whisk on medium heat. Crumble in the cube of chicken stock. It should become thicker and thicker. By now you can add the half glass of wine – (this is optional). Lower the heat and stir firmly and quickly until desired thickness. Set aside.
Take out the pastry shells and heat for 8-10 minutes. Now you can mix the chicken with the bechamel sauce. Reheat slightly for 2 minutes on a low-heat. Fill generously each shell and place top ‘hat’ shell on top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
Serve either as a starter or as a main course with a salad on the side.