Let’s be proud of a Belgian classic

A stew of chicken, little meatballs and mushrooms filled in a ‘vol au vent’ (= puff pastry-cup) is a very traditional Belgian first course ( flemmish name = videeke =‘koninginnenhapje =the queens’ bite;-)). The wife of king Louis XV, Marie Leszczynska, was the first person to have the idea of filling the vol au vent with this specific stew.

As first course you will probably have to starve yourself a few days before, so today it is more common to serve as a main dish with some salad and, for sure, Belgian ‘frites’ more known as ‘French fries’ (though the good ones are realy Belgian!).

If you make the traditional recipe start with a broth of chicken. Take good quality chicken and use that chicken in the dish. For a tasty broth add a peeled onion, roughly chopped, 1-2 garlic cloves, 1 roughly chopped carot, a ‘bouquet garni’ (fresh bay leaves, fresh thyme, fresh parsley), a small spicy little pepper (for an entire casserole it’s not too spicy). Add water until the chicken is completely covered and allow to simmer for 1-2 hours. Try to prepare the stock the day before.

Make little meatballs (total amount of meat, chicken and balls will be more than we normally eat in a month, but leftovers can be put in the freezer or ??). For a small chicken of approx 1, 3 kilo ( max 500 grams will end up in the stew) take 400, max 500 grams of minced meat (I will always take chicken minced meat too) to make the balls. This will be a good portion for 4p in total. Season the meat with pepper and salt. Wet your hands with water and roll little balls of 2-3 cm. Cook them in some of the stock until they appear at the surface.

Bake 400-500 grams of mushrooms in some butter.

The puff pastry is not a must, and is often even not eaten, but it looks better on your plate. It is easy to make with ready made puff pastry. Decide the size by using a timbal or even a glas. Make a few bottoms. Use the same timbal for the upper layers, and use a smaller to create open cirkels. Put the open cirkels on top of the closed bottom and make a few layers (if you really want to fill them they will have to have at least 3-4 layers. Use some water or raw egg to stick them together. One of the inside cirkels will serve as a lid. Before dinner put the puff pastry approx 15 mins in a preheated oven at 180°.

Make a roux, by using first an amount of butter (2-3 table soons for 4p), once melted, add the same amount of flour. Stir constantly. It is important that the roux has no clots, and has no flour- taste (wait until you get the smell of cookies). Add the seeved stock (the whole amount will be really to much, but is is great to have smaller portions in the freezer for a special sauce) by stirring constantly until you get the perfect thickness of a good sauce. Add pepper and salt. Add some lemon juice (of 1 lemon, but taste!!!). Reheat the meat, (chicken in pieces and meatballs) and the mushrooms in the sauce. Add some freshley chopped parsley.

Ready to serve with a green salad, the Belgian fries, and real… mayonaise. This is Belgium!


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