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.
- 18 puff pastry shells
- 1 egg (beaten with 1 tablespoon of water as egg wash for pastry)
- 1 to 1.25 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts (3 medium size breasts)
- 4 oz butter (1/2 stick)
- 8 oz white button mushrooms
- 1 clove minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1/2 cup of dry white wine
- 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- pinch salt and pepper (to taste)
- parsley to garnish (optional)
Liquid for Poaching Chicken:
- onion (peeled and cut in half)
- 2 and 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup white wine
- pinch of salt and pepper
Cook the puff pastry shells according to the package directions. 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.
I poach the chicken breasts in wine and chicken 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 voila! Lovely, tender, low-fat chicken, perfect for casseroles, sandwiches, or creamy savory fillings. Remove the chicken from the water and allow them sit on a plate, while preparing the mushrooms and sauce. If you chop the chicken too quickly the meat will tear and shred. I like to chop the chicken into bite size chunks.
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.
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 stock. Keep whisking, and whisking as you pour.
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.
At this point you can choose to store the filling, once cooled, using it to fill the puff pastry shells at another time. Or you can fill the shells with two to three teaspoons of mixture. 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.
Or just pop the lid back on and gobble them up.
Hope you enjoy the creamy, savory deliciousness of these little bites of Irish Christmas goodness.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
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