Step One: Chicken.
-chicken legs (2 whole or 4 lower legs)
-handful of diced vegetables
-salt, pepper and garlic
The home-made stock is the true heart of this vol au vent, and once you've tasted it I dare you to return to anything less. You might recognize this phrase (and parts of the recepy) from my chicken soup
Put a chunk of butter (about 60 g) in a frying pan, on a hot fire. Once the butter is golden put the bits of chicken in. Now put the chicken in with the skin side down.
Brown the chicken legs as much as possible, then turn them over.
Meanwhile you'll need to start with the vegetables. Dice them if this hasn't been doen yet. Cut the garlic.
Take a large soup pot and heat up butter or oil. Bronze the garlic in the oil, then cover the bottom with the vegetables. Add half a tablespoon of salt. Do not use more salt as in the reducing fase the stock will be reduced to a quarter of it's contents. Enough sqalt now will be four times as much then. Stew the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they lose their cripness, then fill the pot three thirds with water.
Meanwhile the chicken should have gained a nice dark brown crust. Turn it around and repeat, then add the chicken to the pot and cover.
Put the pot on a high fire, then, before the water boils, switch to medium or even low fire. Keep water temperature high but below boiling for two, up to three, hours. When the flesh slides off the bones easily when pushed with a fork, switch off the fire. Again, never let the water boil.
Take out the first piece of chicken and put on a plate. Using two forks, strip the flesh from the chicken and place into large bowl to cool. Put the skin and bones back in the pot. Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
Step Two: Stock.
Once the chicken bones are back in the pot put the pot on a high fire and start boiling. Again up to two hours to get all the taste out of the skin, bones and veggies.
Finally, when no continued amount of boiling is likely to tease more taste out of the stock, switch off the fire and pour the pot out into a bowl. Place a colander on the pot. Pour the contents of the bowl gently into the colander and leave to drip. Finally pour some cold water trough to get as much of juice, thus taste, out as possible.
Now that you've got a stock, you'll need to start reducing it. Crank up you vapor hood and let the pot boil with the lid off... again, this could take two hours. Keep boiling until your stock has a good consistency. It should be gooey rather than running, but not so gooey your spoon stands up. Pay attention to it's taste as well: if it starts tasting salty turn off the heat no matter the consistency. If necessary, you can bind the
Now a quick word on hygiene.
When you're done reducing either be ready to finish the vol-au vent, or place the pot in cold water in the sink to cool as fast as possible. Then, and only then, you can put the reduced stock in plastic pots to put straight into the freezer. If you want to keep the stock in the fridge let the plastic pots cool in the freezer before putting them in the fridge. Don't store the stock in the fridge, and certainly do not let it cool down to room temperature.
Step Three: Meatballs