Poulet au Porto Vol au Vent
Inspired by Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking
I did this in two stages over two days
Stage one: Julia's roast chicken recipe is on page 240 of the book. I used my own because it was simpler on a rushy day.
Roast the chicken…prep time – 10 minutes; roasting…about 90 minutes or so; allow to cool and remove meat from bones and put in baggie in fridge. Save the cooking liquid in a small container in the fridge.
Stage Two: my actual prep/cooking time sort of blurred…
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes
Frozen uncooked vol au vent shells
Meat from 1 roasted chicken, cut in chunks
Roasting liquid and fat from the chicken
1 lb/450 g cremini mushrooms, sliced (I actually was hoping to find a variety of wild mushrooms, but no luck today)
¼ cup water
1 tbsp butter (plus 1 more tbsp for finishing)
1 tsp lemon juice
Pinch of salt
1 cup whipping cream
½ tbsp cornstarch blended with 1 tbsp cream
Salt & pepper
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1/3 cup medium dry port ( I actually used Manischewitz Concord Red Wine…Jewish port)
Mushroom cooking liquid
¼ cup cognac
1. Bake the vol au vent shells as per package directions. Set aside until serving.
2. Allow the cooked chicken to come to room temperature (about 30 minutes on the counter before final stage). Separate the fat from the roasting liquid but don’t discard the fat.
3. Bring the water, butter, salt and lemon juice to a boil and add the sliced mushrooms. Cover and allow to gently boil for 6 minutes or so. Pour out the cooking liquid and reserve.
4. Pour the cream and cornstarch mixture into the mushrooms and simmer for 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning and set aside.
5. In a sauce pan or sauté pan, use 1 tbsp roasting fat and sauté shallots and cook slowly for 1-2 minutes. Add the roasting liquid (if you stored it in the fridge overnight, then it’s congealed but it will melt down), mushroom liquid, and port and boil down rapidly , scraping, if you need to, as it boils and reduces to about ½ cup (5 minutes or so).
6. Slowly, (large spoonful at a time) add half the shallot port mixture to the saucepan with the mushrooms and cream. The “slowly” is so that the cream won’t curdle. Then add the rest of the shallot, port mixture and taste for seasoning. Add salt & pepper as needed. (less than 5 minutes). Steps 1-6 can be made about an hour ahead or so of time, just gently heat thoroughly before final step.
7. Lightly butter a flame proof casserole or chafing dish (that’s Julia’s suggestion for fancy serving…I don’t own one, so the casserole that works on top of the stove does just fine…thanks), and over medium heat, cook until you hear the chicken sizzle or at least some of it start to crisp. Pour the cognac over the chicken, avert your eyes (Julia’s wise tip) and ignite the cognac. Shake the casserole until the flames subside. Pour in the mushroom mixture, toss and cover. Let it “steep” (another Julia word…you have to love it and feel special when you’re making this) for 5-10 minutes. If, like me, you prepared the mushroom mixture beforehand, heat it thoroughly before adding to the chicken. Do not let it boil.
For the vol au vent effect, pour the chicken and mushrooms over the bottom shells and cap with the little piece. My secret…I also cooked some rice for seconds! Sprinkle a little chopped fresh parsley for garnish if you like. My family was too intent on wolving it down to care about the garnish.