Vol-au-vents are little puff pastry cases invented in Paris around 1800 by Antonin Carême, known as the the ‘King of Chefs, and the Chef of Kings’. The name literally means ‘blown by the wind’. They have been popular in the UK as canapés and are fairly easy to get a hold of in most supermarkets, however I wasn’t able to find any in the US, but I was up for the challenge of making my own.
Coronation chicken was invented for the lunch to celebrate the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, by a florist called Constance Spry and a chef called Rosemary Hume. The dish is said to be inspired by another dish called Jubilee Chicken for the Silver Jubilee of George V, the grandfather of Queen Elizabeth II. My recipe for the coronation chicken filling for the vol-au-vents is based on the taste of the original Rosemary Hume recipe, but simplified, since this is for canapés and not a main dish.
How to make Vol-au-vents
- Frozen puff pastry sheets
- 1 egg
- Plain flour (All purpose)
First defrost the pastry sheets. On a clean, floured surface lay out the pastry, rolling it slightly if needed. Take a fluted, 2″ (5cm) pastry cutter, dip the edge into some flour (to prevent sticking) and cut out as many circles as possible. Lay the circles onto a greased baking sheet and using the tip of a small, sharp knife, gently score a smaller circle in the middle, but only about half way through. I actually used the metal lid from a gin bottle which was the perfect size and it had a sharp edge. Brush each pastry circle with an egg wash and cook in a 400F (200C) oven for about 20mins until the are risen and golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. When the vol-au-vents are cool, use a sharp knife to extract the ‘lids’, which can be used to top the filling. Using something like the handle of a wooden spoon, gently push the pastry down into the vol-au-vent, making a space for the filling. If you don’t want to use the lid, you could just push it down into the space as well. Fill the vol-au-vents and serve.
Making the Coronation Chicken Filling
- Pre-cooked shredded chicken, or chicken cut into small pieces
- 3 tbsp of mayonnaise
- 2 tsp of mango chutney
- 2 tsp of mild curry powder
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Mix together the mayonnaise, mango chutney and curry powder. Taste and add more curry powder if required and then season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken and mix to coat thoroughly. Spoon the mixture into the vol-au-vent cases and decorate with a sprinkling of chopped parsley.
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