Once Mexico became an independent nation in 1821, businesses from European countries other than Spain arrived in Mexico. In my previous post, I talked about the British legacy from this era, including football (soccer) and savoury pastries called pastes, originated from the Cornish pasty. From France, there was an even greater influence in Mexican baked goods, the trade becoming so important, that even the first French intervention in Mexico, in 1838, is referred to as “The Pastry War” (Guerra de los pasteles, or Primera intervención francesa en México), because it began under allegations of Mexico’s government unpaid debt to French businesses and in particular, a pastry store in Mexico City. Just a few decades later, The second French intervention interrupted the presidency of Mexican Benito Juárez with the imposition of emperor Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Charlotte (1964-1967); this short reign was full of inextricable difficulties, but contributed to the introduction of more baked goods from French and Austrian cuisines, such as cakes, sweet and savoury breads, and pastries.
Many French-Mexicans descend from immigrants and soldiers that settled in the country for good during that brief Empire; one of the pastries they brought with them was the vol au vent, consisting of two layers of puff pastry to form a vessel that may be filled with fruit, or most frequently, with savoury preparations such as chicken stew, seafood meat, cheese, etc. The name remained the same, but it is spelled “volován”. In the Mexican state of Veracruz, the volován evolved over the years, from a delicate vessel, into more of a round or square patty, for portability, becoming especially popular in the port of Veracruz, where reportedly they are sold out of baskets on the beach or on the street, often washed down with a CocaCola™ (for breakfast!)
Veracruz style vol au vents – volovanes veracruzanos, come in many different flavours, such as chicken, chorizo, tuna, crab meat, etc., but the staple is a combination of ham, processed cheese and stringy cheese. For this recipe, I am using turkey slices, regular yellow processed cheese slices, and Oaxaca style cheese:
And I had a portion of my homemade puff pastry (click here for full story and detailed directions):
Veracruz Style Puff Pastry Patties –
Ingredients (for six pieces)
1 lb (454 g) puff pastry (check my recipe above for homemade, or thawed from frozen)
½ lb (226 g) ham slices, or other cold-cut meat; cut to fit a square shape
¼ lb (113 g) stringy cheese, such as Oaxaca or fresh mozzarella; shredded
6 slices yellow cheese, processed or light cheddar
1 egg, for brushing
On a well-floured surface, roll pastry into a rectangle, a little larger than 12×16 inches (30×40 cm):
Trim edges and cut rectangle into a three by four grid of 4 in (10 cm) squares:
Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC).
Arrange six squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper; place portions of cold-cut meat on each, then one slice of processed cheese, and top with a mound of shredded cheese:
Brush around the edges of the pastry squares with a little water (photo below, left). Roll the remaining pastry squares just slightly, to make them a tad thinner and larger (photo below, right):
Place the rolled pastry squares on top of the squares with fillings and, using well-floured fingers, gently press together along the edge, to seal:
Beat egg in a small bowl, and brush the top of the pastries (photo below, left). Pierce the top of each pastry several times with a fork, for venting hot air during baking (photo below, right):
I placed the pastry trimmings on the tray, to avoid waste:
Bake in pre-heated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffed up and golden brown. Remove from oven.
My volovanes looked really crispy, and smelled delicious. I probably did not seal the edges hard enough, so the processed cheese leaked in some of them; also, the pastry in the centre of the lower row browned more because it was the one I photographed while applying the egg wash, so it got a thicker layer (LOL):
Serve hot or at room temperature, shown below with some pickled carrots and jalapeño peppers, and a glass of CocaCola™ on the side (not necessarily for breakfast!):
In Veracruz, the weather is always warm to hot, so the pairing with a cold beverage is perfect year-round there, and seems appropriate for the summer months anywhere. During the inclement winter months in places like Canada, this snack may still be delightful, served as a snack by the fireplace, along with a cup of piping hot tea or coffee.
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And last, but not least, as the FIFA World Cup continues, the Quarter Final matches have been set, and it looks like no team will have an easy field day: Croatia vs Brazil, and The Netherlands vs Argentina, on December 9, 2022, promise to be two exciting games with no doubt very boisterous audiences; on December 10, 2022, Morocco vs Portugal, followed by no other than England vs France, the 2018 FIFA World Cup fourth place and champion, respectively. If a culinary match took place between Mexican pastes (created after the Cornish-English pasty) and these Mexican volovanes (originated from the French vol au vent), who would win? Oh, so many pastries, so very delicious! I will guess a draw 2-2, and France winning on penalties.
UPDATE December 14, 2022: The final score was France 2-England 1. Croatia beat Brazil, Argentina won the match against The Netherlands, and Morocco prevailed over Portugal. In semi-finals, Argentina vs Croatia resulted in a 3-0 score, so Argentina is going to the finals, and Croatia will fight for third place. France will play Morocco on December 14, 2022.
FINAL UPDATE December 22, 2022: The final score was France 2 – Morocco 0 on December 14, granting champion France to play the final, and sending Morocco to a very honourable match for third place. Third place game on December 17: Croatia 2 – Morocco 1. And the final on December 18, an exciting score of 3-3, with Argentina prevailing on penalties 4-2. The next FIFA World Cup will take place in all three nations in North America; hosting nations get an automatic pass to the tournament so Mexico, the United States and Canada will have a presence for sure.
I am sharing my post at Thursday Favourite Things #571, with Bev @ Eclectic Red Barn, Pam @ An Artful Mom, Katherine @ Katherine’s Corner, Amber @ Follow the Yellow Brick Home, Theresa @ Shoestring Elegance and Linda @ Crafts a la Mode.