Puff pastry shells filled with chicken and mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce remind me of Irish Christmas parties.
My Mom would make these delicious appetizers whenever relatives and friends were invited for a a little get-together during the Christmas season.
Table of Contents
- Favorite Irish Appetizer
- Ingredients for Savory Vol-au-vents
- Directions for Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vents
- Prepare the Puff Pastry Shells
- Recipe Card for Savory Chicken Vol-au-vents
Favorite Irish Appetizer
The good thing is that you can make the sauce ahead of time, and bake the pastry shells in advance. Then all you have to do is assemble the appetizer and reheat them in the oven before serving. These belong to the category make ahead party food.
The filling for these vol au vents is creamy and delicious. I first poach the chicken with onion to make make moist chicken pieces. I sauté the mushrooms with herbs and garlic, then add then add the chicken and wine to infuse flavor.
All of this yummy goodness gets combined with a cream sauce to create a luscious filling.
Here's the complete recipe, plus you'll find a printable recipe at the end of this post.
Ingredients for Savory Vol-au-vents
Here's a quick list of what you will need. You'll find exact quantities in US and metric equivalents in the recipe card.
The nutrition information is also available there with details of protein, carbohydrate, fat, and vitamin content.
- puff pastry shells
- 1 egg (optional - beaten with water as egg wash for pastry)
- boneless skinless chicken breasts
- white button mushrooms
- minced garlic
- fresh thyme leaves
- dry white wine
- all-purpose flour
- chicken stock
- dijon mustard
- whipping cream
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- parsley to garnish (optional)
Liquid for Poaching Chicken
- chicken stock
- white wine
- salt and pepper
Ingredient Tips and Substitutions
I use precut puff pastry shells rather than making my own shells from puff pastry sheets. This simplifies the whold process.
I only use mushrooms as a vegetable in this sauce. If you choose to add vegetables such as chopped and finely diced celery or carrots, remember they will need to be cooked a little longer than the mushrooms to ensure they soften.
A bay leaf is a nice addition to the poaching liquid. You could also add a few sprigs of thyme if you like the flavor of this fresh herb.
I do not recommend using dried herbs. Fresh herbs taste best in this recipe.
Directions for Chicken and Mushroom Vol-au-vents
Here you'll find step-by-step photographic instructions for making this delicious appetizer.
Prepare the Puff Pastry Shells
Cook the puff pastry shells on a baking tray in a preheated oven, according to the package directions. You can use a layer of parchment paper on the baking tray to prevent them sticking if you wish.
You can brush the tops of the pastry shells with an egg and water wash if you like a deep golden brown color on your vol-au-vents. I didn't take this step, because I find there is so much butter in puff pastry they bake to a lovely golden brown without the wash.
They will be a lovely golden brown once baked. Cool them on a wire rack once they are baked.
They can be baked the day before a special occasion and stored for up to 24 hours in an airtight container.
Just before the party, the tops can be removed with a knife, the center filled with pre-made savory filling, then topped with the pastry lid as decoration. The vol-au-vents can be reheated in a 400 degree F oven for 15 minutes.
Being a make-ahead recipe makes this a keeper for Christmas celebrations. The creamy wine sauce with chunks of chicken and mushrooms is the perfect savory filling for a festive appetizer.
If you are an adventurous cook you can make puff pastry from scratch and create your own puff pastry shells from a rolled puff pastry sheet. But who has time for all that work?
Poaching the Chicken Breasts
I poach the chicken breasts in wine and chicken broth or stock . A mild, wine flavor infuses the chicken during the simmering process.
One key to success when simmering chicken is to choose the right size saucepan where the chicken lies on the bottom in a single layer.
I fit three chicken breasts in my 2 quart saucepan. A peeled and halved onion can be added to the pot to further infuse flavor into the chicken.
Pour chicken stock and white wine over the chicken and onion.
The liquid should cover the top of the chicken by at least 1 inch.
Add a pinch of salt and pepper to the liquid.
Tender, moist, poached chicken is dependent on cooking temperature. Bring the liquid to a boil, then immediately turn the heat down low, so the surface barely bubbles.
Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the burner and leave the chicken sit in the water for another 15 minutes.
If you are using very thick chicken breasts simmer for an extra 5 to 10 minutes before turning the heat off.
The chicken is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
And voilá! That's how to make lovely, tender, low-fat chicken, perfect for casseroles, sandwiches, or creamy savory fillings.
Remove the chicken from the water and allow it to sit on a plate, while preparing the mushrooms and sauce.
If you chop the chicken too quickly the meat will tear and shred. It's best to allow time for the juices to settle. I like to chop the chicken into bite size chunks.
Note: You can use chicken breast with bones if you wish. The bones add extra flavor and nutrition to the poaching liquid. Just be sure to remove all of the bones once you chop the cooked chicken.
Making the Savory Filling
Next, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms when the butter begins to tinge slightly brown.
I cut small white mushrooms into eighths. If you prefer a chunkier mushroom bite, cut into quarters. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook the mushrooms until lightly golden (this takes 3 to 4 minutes).
Add the minced garlic glove and stir together for about 30 seconds.
Add the thyme and mix together.
You can substitute a different fresh herb if you wish. Alternatives include tarragon, sage or dill.
Add the wine and turn up the heat to bring it to a simmer. Lower the heat and continue to simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Enjoy the aroma of fresh thyme and wine floating through the air. The wine volume should reduce by half.
Cut the chicken into bite size pieces and mix into the mushrooms and wine.
Turn off the heat and let the mixture stand while you prepare the cream sauce. The chicken absorbs the wine as it rests. Yummy!
In another large skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter.
Add the flour, stirring constantly for 1 minute to form a roux.
Make sure you cook the flour and butter for the full minute, or else the sauce might taste of raw flour.
Gradually whisk in the chicken broth.
Keep whisking, and whisking as you pour. This is an important step to creating a smooth and creamy sauce.
Don't panic if it looks a little lumpy initially.
If you keep whisking you will have a nice smooth sauce in no time.
Add the dijon mustard and whisk into the sauce.
Add the cream and combine.
Add the mushrooms and chicken. Mix them through the cream sauce.
Turn the heat back up and bring to simmering point once again. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, then turn off the heat.
Assemble the Vol-au-vents
At this point you can choose to store the filling, once cooled, using it to fill the puff pastry cases at another time. Use an airtight container and store in the fridge up to two days.
I do not recommend freezing this filling, since the cream sauce loses some of its creamy texture and can get a little grainy.
Or you can fill the shells with two to three teaspoons of mixture. I like to use a small spoon for filling the shells. I find it easier to keep the filling off the edges of the pastry, to create an eye appealing appetizer.
If the shells have cooled a little, just pop the filled vol-au-vents back into a 375 degree F oven for 5 minutes.
Sprinkle with a little parsley, if desired, to garnish.
Other garnish options include chopped water cress or chives.
Or just pop the lid back on and gobble them up.
For a perfect finger food use smaller sized vol au vent cases, and fill with this creamy chicken misture.
Hope you enjoy the creamy, savory deliciousness of these little bites of Irish Christmas goodness.
Recipe Card for Savory Chicken Vol-au-vents
Here's a short video in celebration of the vol-au-vent.
Here's the recipe card for you kitchen files.
Chicken and Mushroom Vol-Au-Vents
- 18 puff pastry shells thaw and cook per package directions
- 1¼ pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 4 ounces butter 1 stick
- 8 ounces mushrooms cut in quarters or eights depending on size
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves chopped
- ¼ cup white wine
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- ¼ cup whipping cream
- pinch salt and pepper to taste
- 1 medium egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water for pastry wash
- 1 teaspoon parsley chopped for garnish
Liquid for Poaching Chicken
- 1 medium onion peeled and halved
- 2½ cups chicken stock
- ½ cup white wine
- ⅛ teaspoon salt and pepper
- Place the chicken breasts in the bottom of a 2-quart saucepan. Add the onion halves and cover with chicken stock and wine. Season the liquid with salt and pepper.
- Turn the heat to high and bring to boiling point. Immediately turn the heat down to low, so that the liquid barely bubbles. Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn the heat off and let the chicken sit in the hot poaching liquid for 15 more minutes.
- When cooked, remove from liquid and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes before cutting.
- Bake the vol-au-vent pastry shells per the packet instructions.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet. Add the mushrooms and sautée for 3 to 4 minutes until lightly golden.
- Add the garlic and thyme and stir well.
- Add the wine, stirring into mixture. Turn the heat to high and return to simmering point. Decrease the heat and allow simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to reduce the volume of wine by half.
- Add the chopped chicken to the mushroom and wine mixture. Turn off the heat and let stand while preparing the cream sauce.
- Melt the last 2 tablespoons of butter in another large skillet. Add the flour and stir well to form a roux. Continue to stir and cook over medium heat for 1 minute.
- Gradually add the chicken stock, whisking continuously to prevent clumping. Bring to simmer and continue to stir and simmer for 1 to 2 minutes until sauce thickens.
- Add the dijon mustard and cream, stirring well to combine.
- Add the mushroom and chicken mixture to the cream sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up to bring to simmering point again. Reduce heat and stir for 2 minutes. Turn the heat off and let stand for 5 minutes before filling the pastry shells.
- Fill the cooked pastry shells with 2 to 3 teaspoons of chicken filling. Place the small pastry lid on top as decoration.
- If pastry has cooled, return the filled vol-au-vents to a 375° F oven for 5 minutes. Alternatively, the pastry shells and filling can be made a day in advance. If so, fill the shells when ready, and heat in a 375° F. oven for 15 minutes.
- Garnish with parsley if desired.
Nutrition Information is estimated based on the ingredients and cooking instructions as described in each recipe and is intended to be used for informational purposes only. Please note that nutrition details may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients used.
I hope you enjoy these appetizers of my Irish childhood.
Here's a link for my complete recipe collection.
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Take care and happy cooking!
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
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