Lobster Vol-au-Vent with peas, chanterelles and bisque
VOL-AU-VENT IS A CLASSIC OF FRENCH CUISINE. Traditionally, the finished dish is rich with butter and cream. My version is a lot lighter – and adaptable to all seasons. So, we have it on the menu all year, with different seasonal fillings and sauces. In spring, I do escargots and parsley; in summer, it’s lobster and chanterelles. In fall, I serve mussels and squash seasoned with curry, and in winter, chicken and sweetbread. Whatever the filling, when you pour its sauce over the crispy, buttery pastry, something magical happens.
- 500 g (1 lb) puff pastry, rolled
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 medium lobster tails or 1 lobster, about 700 g (1½ lb), parcooked, shelled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- salt, pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 50 g (½ stick) butter, diced
- 200 g (1½ cups) peas, blanched
- 400 g (14 oz) chanterelles, cleaned, trimmed and cut into pieces
- 500 ml (2 cups) lobster bisque, reduced by ⅓, warm
Chicken and Sweetbread Version*
- 400 g (14 oz) cooked sweetbread, cut into pieces
- 200 g (7 oz) cooked chicken breast, cut into pieces
- 200 g (7 oz) maitake or cremini mushrooms, cut into pieces
- 50 g (½ stick) butter
- salt, pepper
- 400 ml (1¾ cups) chicken jus
Preheat oven to 180°C (375°F).
Use a 10 cm (4”)–diameter pastry cutter to cut eight discs from the sheet of puff pastry. With an 8 cm (3”)–diameter pastry cutter, cut smaller discs from the centres of four of the discs. Transfer the four larger discs to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Whisk egg yolk with a little water and brush evenly over those four discs, avoiding the edges. Arrange the second four (two-piece) discs on top of the first four discs, and brush the top layers with egg wash. Transfer to middle rack of the oven and bake until golden and crisp — about 40 minutes (10 minutes longer without convection). Set aside.
If you are equipped with a steam oven or immersion circulator, preheat it to 55°C (131°F). Season lobster with salt and pepper, vacuum-seal and cook for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a skillet on medium; add oil and butter. Once the butter foams, add the peas and chanterelles. (If you don’t have a circulator or steam oven, add the cold lobster at the same time as the vegetables.) Sauté until mushrooms are wilted — about 2 to 3 minutes — and the mixture is heated through. If you cooked the lobster separately, add it now and stir. Correct seasonings. Arrange four vol-au-vents on four warm plates. Remove small lids. Divide lobster mixture between the four pastry shells and drizzle generously with the bisque. Replace pastry lids and serve.
*For the winter edition with chicken and sweetbread, follow the exact same procedure. Sauté mushrooms, chicken and sweetbread until mushrooms have wilted and mixture is heated through. Correct seasonings, divide between 4 vol-au-vents and drizzle with chicken jus.
Photos by Anne-Marie Jackson