There’s something about French cuisine that sends my heart (and my stomach) on flights of culinary fantasy. The very names of the dishes seem steeped in legend and lore, calling forth images of the finest of tables laden with dishes of renown. These names in the French tongue, perhaps the most beautiful of any language I’ve ever heard, lend themselves to this fancy. Cordon Bleu, Coq au Vin, Pot au Feu…and of course, Vol au Vents. It’s both beautiful and fun to say as well.
Vol au Vent means 'blowing wind' (more or less) in French, and perhaps this pastry got that name because they are light and airy, as if filled with the air from the very wind that blows across the land. These pastries are often filled with sweet, fruity or creamy concoctions at French patisseries, but they are also served savory style, and that is where we are going today, courtesy of the champignon, or as we say here in ‘merica, the mushroom.
Mushroom Vol au Vents
2 Sheets Puff Pastry, Rolled Out 10”x10” Square
1 Egg, Beaten
1 Lb Cremini Mushrooms, Chopped
1 Large Onion, Diced
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Herbs de Province
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1/4 Cup Flour
1/3 Cup Milk
1/3 Cup Heavy Cream
6 Tablespoons Butter
For this recipe I use frozen puff pastry sheets.
They are quite good, and making homemade puff pastry at this point in life is beyond my skill set. If you want to make things even easier, you can by puff pastry shells for your Vol au Vents, but I think this takes some of the fun out of the process, and they don’t seem to taste as good as making them out of the sheets.
Preheat Oven to 400F. Thaw the puff pastry sheets according to directions on the box and, when they are fully thawed, lightly flour a work surface and roll out the sheets with a rolling pin until each is about ten inches by ten inches. (you can do them one at a time, if space is a premium)
With the first sheet, use a four inch biscuit or cookie cutter and cut out four disks of puff pastry. If you’re like me and don’t have a four inch biscuit cutter, use a small bowl, and press it down firmly onto the dough.
Lay these disks on a baking sheet that is greased or lined with parchment paper.
Brush the egg wash over the disks.
Now, with the other sheet of puff pastry, cut four more disks, then, using a smaller two and a half inch cutter, cut another circle centered in each of the disks.
Now take each of these doughnut-like rings you’ve created and place them on the solid disks.
Brush again with the egg wash.
If you want, you can also place the smaller, two and a half inch disks on the baking tray. They’ll puff up as well and make little lids for your Vol au Vents.
Place the baking sheet in the 400F degree oven and bake for 20 minutes, until they are puffed up and golden brown.
While these are baking, you can make your filling.
Melt three tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet. Add the diced onion and sauté until translucent. Clean and chop your mushrooms,
then add them to the skillet.
Cook until the mushrooms have softened and reduced in size. At this point, add the minced garlic and herbs de province and let cook for about a minute. Add the white wine and stir to deglaze the pan. Let the wine reduce by half and then sift in the flour and stir.
Cook for 30-40 seconds and then add the milk.
Stir and lit this reduce a bit. Add the heavy cream
and allow this to reduce by about a third. Finally, add the last three tablespoons butter and allow this to melt, stirring frequently.
When butter is melted, turn off heat.
When the puff pastries are baked, remove from oven and let stand a minute or two.
Sometimes the middle of the pastries will have risen as much as the outer ring—if this is the case, remove the middle cap and any thin pastry crumb that may be inside.
Use a knife to gently cut the disk out if you have too.
When this is done, spoon the hot mushroom filling into the pastries,
partially cover with a pastry cap, and serve immediately, either as an appetizer course or as a side.
Here we’ve served one with some Chicken Normandy.
Until Next Time,