In the world of cool, office new year’s parties do not even make guest appearances. Alcohol, stern new year’s resolutions and colleagues do not a happy combination make. Still, I went to mine today. Even if the party was never going to be cool, I could still meet New, Cool People.
Or the same people I wished happy holidays ten short days ago at another party and who now all had the same things to say:
“How was your vacation?”
“Fine, thank you. Too short, though, as they always are.”
The very creative (or virus-ridden) threw in the occasional “… I tidied the house” or “… but now I’ve got a cold”. Not that I was any better. I think I even told one, unlucky, person in detail about the number (and state…) of handkerchiefs I went through while sick. Not a good day for cool.
As if to add insult to injury, the lunch buffet was filled with dried-out sausage rolls, mushroom soup from a package and soggy rolls. No one asked me, but if they had, I would have told them to spend the money on fancy petits fours and cups of coffee instead. Or serve my mom’s veal vol-au-vents. Indulgent, easy to produce in large quantities, with a mild, buttery flavor that few can resist. Maybe not cool as such, but delicious and filling. Which is more than those rolls could say.
As mothers do, my mom gauges amounts for these purely by eye. Since it is hard to go horribly wrong here, I am going to tell you what she told me. If it doesn’t quite work, just give it another go. Trust me, you won’t need telling twice.
Simmer 400 gr of veal (buy a cut with a bit of fat, so it doesn’t dry out so much) in a scant liter of beef stock for 30 minutes or so, until just cooked. Remove the fatty bits when cooked, then finely dice the meat.
Melt a big chunk of butter (50 gr?) in a heavy bottomed pan. When melted, add enough flour to bind. It should be a thick mixture, not wet but not completely dry either. I say about ½ cup of flour is a good place to start. When the mixture looks like a loose cookie dough, you have made roux. Cook for five minutes, but be careful not to let the roux brown.
After five minutes, or when the roux has lost its raw edge, add a ladleful of hot stock. Stir to incorporate, then add two ladlefuls of hot stock and stir until fully incorporated again. Repeat the two-ladle routine until the sauce has a consistency of a thick gravy. It will thicken considerably when cooler, so best to err on the thin side when deciding whether to add more stock. Taste, add salt if necessary. Stir in the meat, and the roughly chopped contents of 1 jar of mushrooms, if you like. Cool quickly and store in the fridge for up to two days or leave to cool a little before serving. (If the latter, you can keep things a little thicker when adding stock.)
Heat up in a small saucepan if needed, adding a little hot stock (or water) to achieve the required consistency.
Serve in puff pastry cases.