Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Beef Wellington

As you know, Ryan's birthday was a couple of weeks ago and to accompany a great dessert needs to first come a great dinner. I wanted to step it up a few notches and really challenge my cooking skills with something I've never made before, never had, nor has Ryan (at least I'm pretty sure he's never had it before). I don't cook beef very much and since I know Ryan enjoys it, I knew I wanted to use beef somehow. It's not that I don't like beef, I just really don't eat it that much. Maybe it's because I'm too afraid to cook it. I think that's the issue. Glad I finally admitted that. What could I make that was challenging, beefy and super special for my birthday boy?

Beef wellington!

It was perfect and I was ready to take on the challenge. If you don't know what beef wellington is or have never had it, it usually consists of beef tenderloin (hello fillet mignon!), wrapped in ham with mushroom duxelle (fancy for finely chopped and cooked mushrooms) and then wrapped in puff pastry and baked to golden perfection. Does that sound fabulous or what? I thought so and was ready to tackle this bad boy. Now, finding beef tenderloin may not be the easiest of things. At least it wasn't for me. Luckily, I made a new friend with the butcher at Whole Foods (I shop there too much and he now knows me - great) and was able to get just what I needed and for a pretty great price. You don't have to go to Whole Foods to find it though. You can ask any meat counter at your local grocery store and I am sure they either have it in the back or they can order it for you at no extra cost. All you have to do is ask!

The good thing about this recipe is that you can make it all in one day or prepare each step the day before. My recommendation would be to at least do the mushrooms ahead of time so they can cool and be ready. I made the mushrooms the night before and then assembled everything the next morning - I was trying to prepare as much ahead of time as possible, so I wouldn't be stuck in the kitchen all night. You could even do the whole thing ahead of time, but make sure that everything is cooled completely before you assemble. If it is still warm, your puff pastry will get soggy and not puff. Non puffing puff pastry is not a good time. I know what you are thinking - this all sounds too complicated. Although there are quite a few steps, all the time it takes to put this together will be well worth your effort - I promise!

Ryan and I like our meat medium well, so it took just shy of an hour to bake the whole thing. About 30 minutes or so into the baking time, I began checking the temperature with a digital thermometer (if you don't have one, go and get one. I paid about $12 for mine and it's great. You don't have to go getting one that costs an arm and a leg! Nothing super fancy needed here, just one that works.) to ensure that the meat was getting to about 150 -155 degrees. It definitely took longer than I thought, so I just covered the top with foil to prevent anything from burning. About an hour in the oven and ten minutes to rest, the meat was ready to cut and serve. This is where I really wish I would have taken a picture of the beef wellington post baking. It was brown, puffed and looking beautiful. The meat was more medium in the middle and more well on ends. It looked pretty and tasted good too! The only sad part was that after the first slice, the meat separated from the prosciutto, mushroom and puff layer. Not sure why that happened. Maybe I just didn't cut it right. Knowing me, that was probably the case. Nevertheless, served with garlic mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus, it made for a yummy birthday meal. I also whipped up a madeira and beef stock reduction sauce to go over the top, but I think this is good enough to stand on it's own so you can taste all the flavors.

Here's how to do it, minus what it looks like when it comes out of the oven. Guess I was too excited to eat it and totally forgot. What a ding dong. Warning there are a lot of photos, but I want to make sure I show you step by step!

I used a small food processor to chop my mushrooms fine. If you don't have one, just take your time cutting them up small.

this is why you cook the mushrooms in a dry and hot pan - to cook them and get all the water out so you don't make the puff pastry all soggy ooey gooey. this takes about ten minutes (give or take).

this is what they look like when they are done. Cover and cool until ready to use.

here is the ingredient line up

most important step - brown the beef on all sides

I'm not joking - brown on all sides.

mmm, browned beef!

cool beef, then coat with mustard.

lay out plastic wrap then prosciutto and then mushrooms.

placed beef on one end.

roll up tight, wrap in more plastic wrap and then place in the fridge until ready to wrap in pasty (at least 20 minutes).

when ready, roll out puff pastry.

place covered beef and brush all sides with egg wash. then roll up.

all rolled up and brushed with egg wash. don't forget to sprinkle with coarse salt!

Beef Wellington (from www.simplyrecipes.com)

1 lb beef tenderloin fillet
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
1 lb mushrooms (I used half cremini or baby bellas)
4 thin slices prosciutto
2 tablespoons yellow mustard (not dijon!)
7 ounces puff pastry (needs 3 hours to defrost in refrigerator if using frozen)
2 egg yolks, beaten

Preheat oven to 400°F. 

  1. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a large pan on high heat. Season the fillet generously with salt and pepper. Sear the fillet in the pan on all sides until well browned (hint: do not move the fillet until it has had a chance to brown). Remove the fillet from the pan and let cool. Once cooled, brush the fillet on all sides with mustard.
  2. Chop the mushrooms and put them into a food processor and finely chop. Heat a large pan on medium high heat. Scrape the mushrooms into the pan and let cook down, allowing the mushrooms to release their moisture. When the moisture released by the mushrooms has boiled away, set aside the mushrooms to cool.
  3. Roll out a large piece of plastic wrap. Lay out the slices of prosciutto on the plastic wrap so that they overlap. Spread the mushroom mixture over the ham. Place the beef fillet in the middle, roll the mushroom and ham over the fillet, using the plastic wrap so that you do this tightly. Wrap up the beef fillet into a tight barrel shape, twisting the ends of the plastic wrap to secure. Refrigerate for 20 minutes or until ready to use. 
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry sheet to a size that will wrap around the beef fillet. Unwrap the fillet from the plastic wrap and place in the middle of the pastry dough. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten eggs. Fold the pastry around the fillet, cutting off any excess at the ends (pastry that is more than 2 layers thick will not cook all the way, try to limit the overlap). Place on a small plate, seam side down, and brush beaten egg yolks all over the top. Chill for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Place the pastry-wrapped fillet on a baking pan. Brush the exposed surface again with beaten eggs. Score the top of the pastry with a sharp knife, not going all the way through the pastry. Sprinkle the top with coarse salt. Bake for 25-35 minutes. The pastry should be nicely golden when done. (To ensure that your roast is cooked to your liking, test with an instant read meat thermometer. ) Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Slice in 1-inch thick slices and enjoy!

Wow, that was a lot of steps, but like I said, SO worth it in the end. This meal is elegant enough to serve for a holiday or even just because. BONUS - My wine recommendation for this (and what we had with ours) is a great pinot noir from San Luis Obispo county- Tower Brook Pinot Noir 2008. If you hurry, you can catch this bottle on the 5 cent sale at BevMo. A bottle will run you about $20 on a normal day, but with the sale, that's about $10/bottle. It's a great light red wine without all the spice. Smooth and perfect with this dish!

1 comment:

  1. Lovely recipe and lovely tutorial as well.Nice share.keep up share that we can get more like this one.
    Beef wellington recipe