Braised Moorhen Vol-au-Vent

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Vol-au-vent is just a fancy way of saying pastry cup, and its a great way to give your small game harvest a little class for the dinner table. Translating from french to roughly “windblown” its an simple, elegant, vessel for a myriad of fillings. The airy crunch, I find pairs particularly well with the rich flavors, and unctuous mouthfeel of the braise. Multiple elements, which we will discuss, come together to form the finished product. While this is paired with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables, anything to your liking can be used.

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Ingredients:
For the braise:
4 moorhen breasts and legs (about 1 # total)
1/4 cup red wine
2 pints stock (This was venison)
1 chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
2T grapeseed or canola oil
For sauce:
reduced braising liquid
2t demi glace
1T butter
salt and pepper to taste
fresh herbs (not required) make a nice addition

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 225 F
2. Salt pieces of meat and pat dry
3. Heat oil in pan until it reaches the smoke point, then without crowding the pan, sear pieces of meat removing after done.
4. Add chopped onions and garlic, sauté till translucent, about 6-8 minutes
5. Deglaze with white wine and reduce till almost dry
6. Add all pieces of meat back to pan, pour in stock, cover with lid
7. Place in preheated oven and check at one hour, braising until meat almost falls off bone.
8. Strain and return liquid to stove, simmering on low, and reduce by approximately half for gravy.
9. Pull all meat off bone, being careful to remove small leg bones.


To make sauce:
10. After braising liquid has reduced, incorporate demi glaze and remove from heat. Add butter stirring constantly
11. Season to taste, strain through fine mesh again if smoother texture is desired

For plating:
12. Following the directions for the puff pastry sheets, preheat oven.
13. Cut two equal size circles from the puff pastry sheet for each vol-au-vent
14. From one, cut out a smaller circle, (keeping this a the lid) leaving a ring the outside diameter of which is the same as the remaining, uncut pastry circle
15. Place this ring on top of the whole circle like the edge of a pizza crust, piercing the inside of the ring with a fork so it will rise less.
16. Brush with egg wash and bake until golden.
17. After cooling, fill the pastries with mashed potatoes, the pulled meat, and finish with roasted vegetables and sauce.

AJ Steele

At forty years young, Adam has split his life almost equally between the Rocky Mountains, and the gulf coast. Cooking professionally from a young age, as well as having a deep relationship with nature set the pattern early for the adventures to come.

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