Sunday, January 09, 2011

Pastetli (Swiss Vol-Au-Vent)



























Apologies for the bad photo, I only managed a few quick snaps before gobbling the subject up. I didn't want to be the weirdo at the table taking millions of photos while everyone was already enjoying the meal. Besides, I wanted to eat it asap! So yeah, if it's hard for you to tell what the food is:  it, is a pastetli. Basically a Swiss vol-au-vent, a wee pastry case filled with a yummy white wine sauce made with stock, and a mushroom and meat filling. It's also what my mother and I made for my birthday dinner on New Year's Eve.

My sister and I share the same birthdate (but born two years apart) and for birthday dinners my mum would often offer to cook us our most favourite meal. I don't know why she kept asking because from what I remember the answer was always "pastetli". Clearly we are not sick of them because I happened to be in my home town for my birthday  this year, and yip, we  stayed with tradition. I took this as the perfect opportunity for me to learn how to make them. Yes they are quite involved,  probably why they were a special occasion meal at our house, but thankfully there's nothing difficult about them.  The filling is actually better when made the day before and slowly reheated, and I suppose you could also save time by purchasing pre-made pastry cases, but  freshly baked pastry cases straight from the oven are just heavenly...
 



















Besides, this is the kind of dish where people will appreciate the time and effort you  put into making them. But be warned, you might end up having to make them year, after year, after year...

First I'll explain the ingredients you'll be using, then I'll move on to how it all goes together. Bear with me!

The pastry cases:
400g flaky puff pastry (high-five to you if you make your own.) Otherwise store-bought pastry is fine, avoid the pre-rolled stuff though.
One beaten egg.

The stock and meat:
800ml water
1 carrot, cut into small cubes
1 whole onion, peeled and spiked with a clove
1 bayleaf
1 tsp salt
400g cubed bratwurst, skin removed. Alternatively you can use veal, chicken or even cooked ham, or skip it and add more vegetables.

The sauce:

1 Tbsp butter or margarine
2 1/2 Tbsp flour
The leftover stock that was created earlier
200ml cream
150g mushrooms (these will be saut√©ed  in butter and 1/4 cup white wine before use)
Salt, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste

Creating the pastry cases: 

Roll out the pastry until approx 3mm thick.
Use round cutters that are approx 8cm in diameter and cut out 8 circles.
Take 4 of these circles and use a smaller round cutter and cut circles into the centre of each. This will create a 'ring' which will become the sides of the pastry case, and a 'lid'.
Brush the edges of the whole circles with beaten egg.
Take the cut-out rings that you  have created, and lightly press these on top of each whole circle.
Now place the tiny circle cut outs into the centre (after baking, these will be removed and become the lids). Brush over all the tops with beaten egg. For, hopefully, less confusion see pic:

















Bake in the middle of the oven at 210 Celsius, for about 15 minutes, or until golden. These, or store-bought cases, can be reheated when needed, at 120 Celsius for just a few minutes. 

Making the filling: 

Add the water, carrot, onion with clove, bay leaf and salt to a pot. Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Note: add in the meat when it is appropriate to their cooking time. e.g sausages will only take 10 minutes so I would add them in the last 10 minutes, however, if I was using raw cubed veal I would add it in the last 15-20 minutes. Also, make sure to simmer with the lid off, as you want the stock to reduce down to approx 350ml. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. Keep the stock.

Now to create the sauce. Melt the butter in a pan, add the flour and fry briefly. Add the strained leftover stock that you kept aside, bring it to the boil while stirring continuously. Add the cream and lower the temperature, simmer for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally. The sauce base is now ready. When ready to serve: add the meat to the sauce along with the mushrooms (along with the wine that they were cooked in). Reheat slowly over a low heat and add salt and nutmeg to taste. Drizzle over warmed pastry cases.

Makes 4

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