SNOW DAY “VOL-AU-VENT” STARRING PORK
Slowly braised pulled pork shoulder mixed with root vegetables, which I find a little more interesting than the classic chicken with frozen peas, carrots and celery combo. Then, bathe all that goodness in a velvety creamy sauce made with the golden fat and juices left from the meat. As if it isn’t gluttonous enough, stuff it in a puff pastry shell, because that’s how the French folks roll. Life is too short and the winters are harsh up here in Canada, so you should definitely free up your schedule, stay home in some fancy pyjamas and cook this twist on a classic recipe I ate countless times as a kid.
PORK, MUSHROOM AND CELERIAC “VOL-AU-VENT”
1.3 kg pork shoulder skinless, bone-in preferable but optional
2 tsp salt
a sprinkle of black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil or butter
340 ml beer or chicken broth
1 package (400 g) puff pastry
4 tbsp butter
4-5 shallots, roughly chopped
200 g mixed mushrooms, roughly chopped (I used a mix of portobello, oyster and cremini)
1/2 small celeriac, peeled and cut in cubes of 1 cm
a few pinches of salt
1/4 cup reserved pork fat from braising the meat (or butter)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup reserved pork juices from braising the meat (or chicken broth)
salt and pepper to taste
Ideally, you would cook the meat the night before or early the day of. Heat the oven to 275°F. Sprinkle 2 tsp of salt and some freshly cracked black pepper evenly on the pork shoulder and rub on all sides with your hands. Place the olive oil or butter in a big Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed oven safe pot and heat on the stove top over medium high heat.
Add the meat in the Dutch oven and let it sear for a few minutes on each side to get a good crust on it. Turn off the heat of the stove top and slowly pour the beer to the side of the meat, not to wash the seasoning off. The pot is hot, so make sure you do so carefully to avoid hot liquid splashing on you.
Cover, place in the oven and cook for 3 hours. Check after 30 minutes to make sure that the liquid at the bottom of the pot is simmering, not boiling, and adjust the temperature if needed. After 3 hours, you should be able to take a fork and shred the meat easily. Shred it all and transfer the meat to a container and reserve the juices in a jar. Place both in the fridge overnight or for at least a few hours. The juices and fat of the pork will separate and you can use this to make the sauce later.
The night before, transfer the dough to the fridge or let it thaw the day of at room temperature for a few hours.
When dinner time approaches, heat the oven to 400ºF. Roll the puff pastry with a rolling pin on a cleaned floured surface into a 15 x 20 cm rectangle. Cut it into 12 squares of roughly 5 cm. On 6 of those squares, you want to cut out a circle in the middle without removing it. See the pictures for an example. Then, crack an egg in a small bowl and mix it well. Brush the 12 pieces of dough with the egg wash. Stack the pieces of dough with the cut out circle on top of the ones left intact, but don’t press them together. This will allow them to rise higher in the oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes, until nicely golden. Let cool while finishing the other steps.
Place 2 tbsp of butter in a pan and turn on the heat to medium high to melt it. Add the shallots, season them with salt and cook for a few minutes, until they are soft and translucent. Transfer to a big bowl. Put the pan back on heat and add another 2 tbsp of butter. Toss the mushrooms and celeriac in, season with salt and leaves picked from a few sprigs of thyme, if you have. Cook for a few minutes as well, until they are soft and start browning a little. Transfer them to the bowl of shallots.
Separate the fat from the juices of from braising the meat. Take 1/4 cup of the solidified fat (or butter) and place it in a saucepan. Melt it over medium heat and, with a whisk ready, add the flour whisking constantly for a minute. This will cook the flour and get rid of its unpleasant taste when raw. Add slowly the milk and the juices from the meat (or chicken broth), whisking constantly still. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil and let simmer, continuing to whisk once in a while, until the sauce thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.
Add the vegetable and shredded meat to the sauce and cook for a few minutes on low-medium heat to warm the filling. Then, take the shells and place them on plates. Take a small knife to remove each circle, affectionately called the “hat”, and hollow out a hole inside each. Fill with the creamy vegetables and braised pork shoulder and serve with the hat back on!
Hi! I’m Steph. Originally from Montréal, I moved to Toronto in 2015. I spend my days working at the most quaint Swedish coffee shop making cinnamon buns and adding cardamom to everything I bake. In this blog, I want to share with you recipes that remind me of home, travel stories filled with new food discoveries and the restaurants, coffee shops and bakeries I love to visit most in my new city.
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