Turn Your Chicken Pot Pie Recipe Into Vol-Au-Vent With One Simple Swap

Chicken pot pies are pretty much synonymous with comfort food, whether you're eating the frozen kind straight out of the foil pans or dining on a deep-dish version at a family-style restaurant. One place you would definitely not expect to see them served, though, is at a formal affair. Surprisingly enough, though, it's really quite easy to take that plain old chicken pot pie recipe and turn it into something that not only sounds much fancier (as does everything with a French name) but is, in fact, the sort of thing you could bring out at a swanky party: vol-au-vents.

Vol-au-vent is a term that translates to mean "flying in the wind," which is a bit ironic in the case of chicken-filled ones as these fowls are for the most part flightless, but the name is likely referring to the puff pastry case as being idiomatically lighter than air. And yes, puff pastry is that one simple ingredient swap that can turn that plebian pot pie filling into a fancy French pastry. If you're really ambitious, you can bake your own puff pastry, but you don't need to since frozen puff pastry makes a more than acceptable substitute and, in fact, premade frozen pastry shells are pretty standard supermarket fare. In fact, so easy are these to bake up that you needn't save vol-au-vents for when company's coming, but can turn your leftover chicken into an elegant entree for a solo soiree any time you're in the mood.

Here are a few more ways to dress up your pot pies-turned-vol-au-vents

While the filling from any standard chicken pot pie recipe can be scooped into puff pastry shells rather than covered in pie crust, you might want to glam it up a bit more to suit its more upscale environs. Instead of using peas and carrots, you may opt for mushrooms, shallots, and chopped fresh herbs, and use heavy cream in place of the canned mushroom soup called for in some recipes. A dash of sherry would also lend an air of sophistication, while cream cheese could make the filling rich and, well, filling. Crumbled bacon might also make for an excellent add-in, but lardons would be even fancier (even though they're basically the same thing).

Once you've assembled your chicken vol-au-vent filling, whether it be the standard pot pie type or a dressier version, you simply heat it up and then spoon it into pre-baked puff pastry cases. Cooking them separately helps ensure that the latter item stays crispy for as long as possible because prolonged contact with anything semi-liquid will make any pastry soggy, Bear in mind that filled vol-au-vents do not good leftovers make, but frozen puff pastry stays good in the freezer practically indefinitely and any leftover chicken filling can be refrigerated or frozen until the next time you're feeling festive.