I felt it necessary this year to do something a little different for Christmas dinner. I usually do a beef tenderloin as the main course, but this year, even though everyone wanted a tenderloin, I thought I’d “amp it up.”
Enter Beef Wellington — a beautiful marriage of beef, mushrooms, prosciutto, and puff pastry. I wouldn’t say it is a difficult dish to prepare, but it is a long and steppy process. I started preparing at 2:30 in the afternoon and served at 7. Now, there is some down time and I wasn’t toiling the whole day, chained to the kitchen while everyone else was having fun, but I did have to keep completing steps to prepare it for the oven.
Recipes: I started with Julia Child. This is where I learned that instead of the mushroom layer that is used in most recipes today, a duck or goose pate was used. All I can say is…Yum! But I didn’t have time to order pate, so the mushrooms would do just fine. I then checked out two more modern-day recipes — Gordon Ramsay’s and, believe it or not, Delish.com. I used the Delish recipe and Ramsay’s sauce recipe.
You must begin with a beautiful piece of tenderloin. For four people I used two pounds.
Next, Clara rinsed and dried the mushrooms, while I rough chopped the shallot. (I definitely had the easier job!)
Next, the tenderloin needs to be seared on all sides — about 8-10 minutes total. And don’t forget the ends.
Place the meat on a platter to rest and come to room temperature. Then brush with Dijon mustard and refrigerate.
While the meat is resting, you can prepare the mushrooms. In a food processor, place the mushrooms, shallot and some thyme. Pulse until shrooms are in very small pieces. I had to do this in a couple of batches.
Place this mixture in a fry pan with butter and cook down until the mushrooms have lost all their liquid, stirring often — about 25 minutes. This is called the “duxelles.” If this mixture has too much liquid in it, when the Wellington is cooked the mushrooms will release more of their moisture and make the puff pastry wrapping soggy. Yick. Season with salt and pepper and place in the fridge to cool.
- Put Saran Wrap on the counter that is twice the size of the tenderloin.
- Take the thinly sliced prosciutto and overlap it to form a rectangle that will completely envelop the tenderloin.
- Spread the cooled duxelles mixture evenly and thinly on top of the prosciutto.
- Place the cooled tenderloin on the bottom of the rectangle.
- Starting at the bottom of the rectangle and using the plastic wrap as a helper, roll the prosciutto/duxelles over and around the meat. Roll tightly and secure the ends by twisting.
- Transfer to the fridge for cooling. This helps the roll to maintain its integrity once you remove the plastic wrap.
Roll out your puff pastry into a rectangle just wider than the tenderloin. Make it easy on yourself and use ready-made (you’re working hard enough all ready!). Remove tenderloin from plastic wrap, place on bottom of rectangle, egg wash the other three sides, and tightly roll to envelop the meat.
Trim off excess puff pastry from sides, leaving enough to crimp close. Use excess to decorate the top if you wish. I did an awful job decorating and am quite embarrassed by the juvenile appearance that I gave this majestic dish. But I was tired and didn’t have it in me to create a masterpiece on top of the true masterpiece. Wrap this in plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
Before baking, remove from plastic, place on a baking sheet, cover with egg wash.
I baked at 425 degrees for 40 minutes. And yes, if you are looking at my sweats and Bombas on my feet, I did change into dinner clothing!
This is truly an elegant main course. Serve with your favorite sides and a big Cabernet! Worth the work. It was incredible! Next time, I might try the duck pate instead of the duxelles. That would add a very savory and creamy texture.
I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas/Holiday Season!
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