Chicken ragout

I love to make bouillon in weekends or holidays. The long, slow process has something relaxing, and as a bonus you end up with a lovely smelling house and a delicious meal. Because were only with 2 at home, I either have to make several things with the bouillon, or I have to freeze some. This time I used part of it for a lovely chicken soup, and part of it for a ragout. I don’t think there are many people making this at home, because you can buy tins of it in the Netherlands, but it is delicious to make it yourself and fun as well. This time I served it in vol-au-vents (shopbought) but it is also delicious served over rice.

Important for a good bouillon is a good, flavoursome chicken. In the past I used to use chicken legs from the supermarket or the market, but those are from young chickens, so they don’t have a strong flavour. Buying a real soup chicken, which is old, tough and not suitable for anything other than cooking it for a long time to make bouillon, gives you a bouillon with lots and lots more flavour. It’s worth it to look for it, but shop around for it a bit, because at some spots soup chickens are extremely expensive, and at some places they are insanely cheap.

Chicken bouillon, soup and ragout (serves 2 people twice)

1 small soup chicken
1 large onion, peeled and chopped in large chunks
1 leek, cleaned and chopped in large chunks
1 medium carrot, washed and chopped in large chunks
3 ribs celery, washed and chopped in large chunks
2 bay leaves
12 pepper corns, crushed
piece of mace
1 clove
few sprigs of thyme
few sprigs of parsley
2 tsp salt (this is not enough, but you can always add more later in the process)

1/2 of the meat from the chicken
300 g soup vegetables

4 vol-au-vents
1/2 of the meat from the chicken
60 g butter
50 g flour
250 ml bouillon
250 ml white wine (can be substituted by more bouillon)
50 ml cream
salt and pepper
lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped herbs (like parsley, chives, chervil)

Place all the ingredients for the bouillon in a large pan and cover with 2 liter cold water. Bring slowly to the boil and simmer for a few hours.
Take out the chicken and set aside. Pour the bouillon through a sieve into another pan, press the liquid from the vegetables (not too much, that will cloud the bouillon), then throw away. I usually boil down the bouillon a little further to intensify the flavour.
Take a clean tea towel and rinse under cold water. Wring out and use it to line a sieve. Pour the bouillon through the towel and sieve into another pan. This will filter out the fine sediment and most of the fat. The bouillon is now ready to use.

Set aside the amount of bouillon you need for the ragout and use the rest for the bouillon.

Peel the skin from the chicken and discard. Pick all the flesh from the chicken and discard the bones, sinewy bits and other bits that are not nice to eat. Shred or slice the meat into chunks, mix up the dark and the light meat and divide in two.

For the soup, bring the bouillon to the boil, add the vegetables and cook for a few minutes (until tender but still slightly crisp). Season with salt to taste. Add the chicken and cook for another minute to heat through. Serve hot.

For the ragout, prepare the vol-au-vents according to package instructions. Melt the butter in a non-stick pan and add the flour. Stir well. Cook on low heat while stirring for a few minutes. Gradually add the stock and wine, while stirring to prevent lumps. Cook to heat through and thicken for a few minutes. Add the cream, stir well. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste and the green herbs. Add the chicken and cook for another minute to heat through. Serve immediately with the vol-au-vents.

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