Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Retro glamour: Easy beef Wellington

Beef Wellington acquires it name from the colorful 1st Duke of Wellington. Among other things, like being the Prime Minister of England, he reformed of his debauched ways for the love of a woman. He later came to regret this love although he owes his great success later in life to the fact that he wasn't a debauched wretch.

He apparently adored beef cooked with mushrooms, pate and Madeira and encased in pastry. What's not to love?

Beef Wellington is elegant and stunningly simple although somewhat expensive to make. It is not for a crowd unless you are loaded. Rather save this recipe for an intimate dinner with three other people who you love enough to splurge on four filet mignon.

Individual Beef Wellingtons:
Serves four
Preheat oven to 425 degree.

Puff pastry, defrosted (one 11x17 in sheet of frozen Pepperidge Farms)
1T olive oil
1T unsalted butter
1 large shallot, chopped
1/2 lb. mushrooms, stemmed and finely chopped
1T fresh thyme (or 1t. dried)
salt and pepper
1/4 c. dry sherry (instead of Madeira)
4 filet mignon (5 oz each)
8 oz. mousse pate (as opposed to country pate)
1 egg, slightly beaten w/ a little water

1. Take the pastry out of the freezer if frozen to allow it to defrost enough to be pliable.

2. Heat oil and butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add shallot, mushroom and thyme. Cook 4 or 5 min then season w/ salt and pepper. Add the sherry. Cook off the liquid until mushroom mixture is dry, about 1 minutes (this burns off the alcohol but retains the flavor of the sherry). Remove from heat and cool. This mixture, by the way, is called duxelles in French cooking.

3. Heat a large skillet. Drizzle some olive oil over each filet mignon. Put meat in hot skillet and sear for two minutes on each side (do not move meat while it is searing). Remove from heat , pat dry to remove any liquid or oil and season w/ salt and pepper.

4. Cut the pate into 4 equal portions (approx. 2 oz. each).

5. Cover a cookie sheet w/ baking parchment (I cannot live without parchment. Go buy some. It keeps your sheets nice and clean and you don't have to scrub them).

6. Open the pastry dough on the parchment. Quarter the dough w/ a sharp knife. Place 1/4 of the mushroom mixture on each piece of dough. Then put 1/4 of the pate on top of each. Finally place a filet on top of the pate.

7. Brush the edges of each piece of pastry w/ the egg wash (this helps seal it so the yummy stuff doesn't leak out).

8. Wrap the dough over the meat, sealing w/ the egg wash and tucking in the ends as if it were a present.

9. Brush each one with the egg wash. Put them in the oven and bake until the pastry is golden, about 12 to 15 minutes. (I found 15 minutes to be a bit too long unless you like your filet medium-well, but I hardly noticed because it was soooo good!).

Put them on a plate with some broccoli or asparagus and pour a nice glass of Bordeaux and you're all set.

1 comment:

Phil said...

In her memoir "Tender at the Bone", Ruth Reichl tells of a dinner party thrown by her mom in which the Beef Wellington got dropped on the floor, right in front of the dinner guests.

Without hesitation, the cook bent down, swept up the mess, and said, "let me go get the other one."

Then back to the kitchen she went for a bit of quick reassembly and pastry patching...