Beef Wellington is one of those dishes that people tend to be terrified of. It just seems to be such an elegant and complex dish that we all think it must be incredibly difficult to make. When I announced that we were making Wellies for Valentines Day dinner, Mooby was a bit concerned that we might not be able to pull it off. I quite literally sent him to the den to check out a great video that would simplify things greatly.
The great thing about Gordon Ramsey’s show The F Word is that during each show he does a quick bit where he condenses a seemingly complicated dish into just a few minutes worth of video. In the following video, he shortens the process of making Beef Wellington into just over 2 minutes, completely removing the fright factor from the process.
After the break, we embark on our own recipe free version of Beef Wellies that include a couple of twists.
We began by cleaning up a whole beef tenderloin as I described yesterday and chose our sections. While the large, non stick pan was heating with olive oil, we seasoned the beef and then seared it in the hot pan. Timing can be a bit of a challenge if you haven’t worked with tenderloin before as it cooks quickly. You want to sear the beef and partially cook through, but not so much that it over cooks in the oven later in the process.
While I seared the beef, Mooby worked on the assortment of shrooms. Cleaned them, stemmed them and then attempted to pulse them in our tiny, $20 food processor. As often happens while there is vino involved in cooking, there was carnage. Fortunately, no fungi were lost as the processor shot fragments of itself across the kitchen!
Yes Chef! The shrooms were indeed full of moisture. We sauteed the moisture from the processed forest fungi and then added a healthy dose of Jack Daniels just to add a bit of fun. We cooked that down too, until the liquid had been absorbed.
Ramsey loves to get in the occasional dig at the French, but we just couldn’t wrap our heads around slathering cheap ass prepared mustard on our meat so we used dijon. Apparently I forgot to take photos of this part of the process. As I said, there was wine involved. Lots of it.
Now the assembly begins. Position a long chunk of plastic wrap, saran or the British cling film on your cutting board. Lay out however many slices of prosciutto as you need to wrap your meat. Mind out of the gutter…I meant your beef…oh crap, you know what I mean! Overlap them so the shroomage will be contained evenly. Spoon out your mushroom mixture evenly, spreading it out across the yummy smoked pork goodness.
Place your beef across the mushroom mixture and carefully, using the wrap, roll the prosciutto and mushroom around the beef. Wrap it together tightly and put it in the fridge to cool for about 20 minutes or the time it takes you to enjoy a glass of wine. 2 glasses if you use those wimpy little 2 oz glasses.
Like most kids, ours abhor mushrooms. Well, that isn’t entirely accurate, as 2 of them enjoy raw shrooms but despise cooked ones. Go figure. We weren’t about to skimp on our own adult pleasures just because there are short people in the house, so we improvised. Costco sells massive bags of Hormel real bacon bits. Our kids love bacon. We prepared a second wellie with bacon bits instead of mushrooms. Mooby was skeptical, but the end result was wicked and the kids loved it.
Not only does this go along with the theory that everything tastes better with bacon, but it also shows that a recipe is just a guide. Tweak it as you see fit for your tastes.
Next up, store bought puff pastry. This stuff is so good that there really no reason for making your own. Thaw the pastry as per the instructions and then unroll it on your cutting board, leaving the parchment in place. Brush egg wash around the edge to ensure a good seal once you wrap it up. Unwrap your bundle of beefy goodness and place it at one end of the pastry. Then, carefully roll the lump of meat from one side to the other while drawing the trailing edge of the pastry along for the ride.
When you are done, press together the ends of the pastry to seal it all together. You should have something that looks something like these puppies. If you haven’t consumed enough wine to inebriate a small nation, they will probably look better than ours. Don’t fret over being too neat though, as once your guests see the final results they are going to be impressed regardless of how neat a wrapping job you did.
Brushing the remaining egg wash over the entire wellie will ensure that your pastry has a delightful golden crust when it is cooked.
Once you have brushed the eggie liquid on the pasty, you might want to work on presentation before baking the wellies. Very gently, score a diamond pattern across the pastry, being careful not to cut through the pastry. A very fine cut line is all that you need to make yourself look like a baking master.
Perhaps the most important element to cooking a dish like this is missing from the video. How long do I cook it and at what temperature? If I recall correctly (it was a month ago and did I mention that there was copious amounts of wine involved?) we set the oven to 375 degrees F and cooked it for about a half hour. The most important thing about any beef tenderloin is that it must not be over cooked. We aimed for an internal temperature of about 140-145 degrees, which is medium rare, knowing that it would be approaching medium once the meat had rested for a while.
Once you have allowed your spectacular beef loaves to rest for 10-15 minutes (or longer if you are somewhat sauced), you are ready to slice. Using your sharpest large knife or a good quality bread knife, cut it into slices that are on the thicker side of one inch.
When the main course is something this flavorful and awe inspiring, not to mention time consuming, it is better to keep the sides and presentation simple. We served our wellies with steamed asparagus and goat cheese mashed potatoes. The kids loved their special version and the double pig shot of bacon and prosciutto worked perfectly. The JD shroomage was just what the doctor ordered.
Beef Wellington may sound like a scary dish to prepare, but really it just needs a bit of confidence and good timing in the kitchen. Beyond that it is a really simple dish that is guaranteed to wow your guests.