An old-fashioned first course
This used to be a traditional first course in many Dutch Christmas meals. The most common version: ready-bought vol-au-vents, heated in the oven, a can of ragout, heated on the stove. The ingredients of canned ragout: water (what it contains most of is mentioned first), and less than 20% meat. Not just low cost and little effort, but also little taste. Or it comes from the thickeners, aroma’s and a heap of salt.
In a while I will publish a recipe for a beautiful blanquette de veau with home made vol-au-vents, but on this page is a recipe for using leftover meat from making chicken stock (which I use much more often than beef stock). The ragout can also be used as filling for croquettes.
How to make a roux is described extensively here, below is the short version.
For about two pints of ragout (the equivalent of 2 cans), so for 4 to 8 persons; preparation in advance without preparing the stock 5 minutes; preparation 15 minutes.
400 gr meat of a soup chicken
5 dl (2 cups) chicken stock, slightly concentrated
40 gr (2 Tbsp + 1 tsp) butter and 40 gr (⅓ cup) flour (60 gram each if using the ragout for croquettes)
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp curry powder
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 dl (¾ cup) cream
4 pastry shells
Preparation in advance
Cut the chicken meat small. It is probably so well done, that it will almost fall apart sponatneously.
Heat the stock until not quite boiling, pour in a (heat-resistant) jug.
Melt the butter in a pan with a thick bottom. The butter must not turn brown. Add the chopped onion and let it sweat until transparent. Then continue until they just start to brown. Add curry and cayenne pepper, and after thirty seconds the flour. Stir well with a wooden spoon. Add a small splash of the stock, stir until the liquid has been completely absorbed. First you get a kind of dough, but as more stock is added, it will become a sauce. Add the chicken meat and heat through. Until this point you can prepare the ragout completely in advance, and keep in the refrigerator for one or two days. Reheat on a slow fire, stirring regularly to prevent burning, or use a microwave or oven. Add the cream just before serving. Stir well, and keep on the fire for a few minutes longer.
In this version we use vol-au-vents from the baker or supermarket that only need reheating.
Put the preheated vol-au-vents on preheated plates, and scoop the ragout in the vol-au-vents. Let it overflow. There must be abundance! Serve at once, because ragout cools quickly.
This is not a spice, but a combination of spices. That means that curry powder of different brands will taste differently, and a brand can have several kinds of curry powder, like mild and spicy. Curry powder is yellow because of the use of kurkuma. Other spices that can be present are coriander, cumin, ginger, chili pepper, black pepper, fenugreek and curry leaves (leaves of the Murraya koenigii). Curry powder is not Indian in origin but british: blended curry spices were for sale in England since late eighteenth century to prepare the spicy dishes from colonial British-India. Some of these blends were tempered with ground rice or other cheap ingredients to enlarge the volume without using expensive spices. Even today, take care to buy a good brand. Curry powder is more European than Asian. For Asian curries it is customary to blend the spices yourself.
Recipe for Vol-au-vent with home-made Ragoût
An old-fashioned first course in the Netherlands, a creamy ragoût with chicken and curry served in a vol-au-vent.