Friday, October 24, 2014

Ideas for a meaty Christmas dinner? Try Beef Wellington! It's still cool.

 This comes from a long time ago...but the recipe is still good. I might make one of these for Christmas dinner this year.

Gordon Ramsay’s F Word gets me in the Kitchen

A few years ago, the summer after I finished my teaching degree, I moved to Montréal to be with my wife. Prior to this, I had only known Gordon Ramsay as the tyrant from Hell’s Kitchen. (I really do enjoy him now on Masterchef mostly because he’s a good judge and a softie when it comes to blind Vietnamese women home cooks. Yes, that’s right, spoiler inbound: big congratulations to Christine Ha for winning the third season of American Masterchef!)

His American shows were still fascinating since they featured people cooking but during my summer of job hunting in Montréal, I stumbled across his British show The F Word. The series really showcased his love for food and that his scary side only showed because of this love. He had videos showing people how to cook various dishes or even to do simple things like how to chop an onion. I thought “Hey, I can do that” and it inspired me to get into the kitchen and start cooking. I watched every single clip including how to make his famed Beef Wellington. It only took me 3 years to finally get around to making it.

I was hoping to make this dish for our 2 year wedding anniversary but my wife had to go to a conference in Switzerland that same evening. I don’t recall what we ate. Over the week she was gone, I slowly gathered the ingredients, willing myself to just make it. It’s no simple task so it was a little bit daunting (and expensive! Those beef tenderloins don’t come cheap). Finally, I decided that it was my first try and that I shouldn’t use an actual beef tenderloin, so I tried practice beef which is why mine don’t come out nice and round. Now that I know I can do it, when that special Holiday dinner comes around, it’s Beef Wellington time. Thanks Chef Ramsay, I’ve finally made it...sort of!

I wasn't terribly pleased with how it turned out. Try to wrap it super tight.

Gordon Ramsay’s Beef Wellington

- A good beef fillet (1-2 lbs)
- English Mustard or Horseradish
- Olive Oil
- A package of chestnut mushrooms (250g)
- A clove of garlic
- (Optional: 200g Chestnuts)
- Fresh Thyme
- 6-8 slices of Prosciutto
- A package of puff pastry (500g), thawed
- 2 egg yolks, beaten
- Salt and Pepper


1. Put some olive oil in a hot pan. Season the beef fillet with salt and pepper. Before the oil starts smoking, get the beef in the pan and sear it all around. You aren’t looking to cook it, just to brown the outside. Tilt the pan to get it all around and use tongs to get the top and bottom ends. Sit it on a plate to rest, and brush it with the mustard or horseradish. Leave to absorb and cool.

2. In a food processor, add the mushrooms, a clove of garlic, season with salt and pepper. Pulse the mushrooms until they look like coarse breadcrumbs. If you want to sound fancy, you can tell people you are making a mushroom duxelles. This isn’t a necessary part of the process though.

3. Fry the mushroom duxelles in a pan, with the sprig of thyme, to soften the mixture and get rid of the moisture from the mushrooms. You can just drop the sprig of thyme in, or add the leaves, just remember to take the sprig out when done. I like thyme so I add a lot of fresh leaves. Cook for about 10 minutes until all the moisture is cooked out and move to a pan to cool.

4. Overlap two pieces of cling film (unless you have very large cling film). Lay the prosciutto on the cling film, slightly overlapping so you have a meat sheet. Spread the duxelles over the meat. Lay the fillet on the mushrooms. Roll the prosciutto around the fillet (similar to the way one would roll a sushi maki roll). Twist the ends of the cling film to tighten it into a nice log shape. Chill the fillet for about 5-10 minutes so it keeps shape.

5.  Roll out two more pieces of cling film. Lay your puff pastry over it. Get the fillet rolled in prosciutto and place it in the center of the puff pastry. Roll the pastry over it until the edges meet and trim any excess pastry. Using the cling film, once again roll it up and tighten the edges to make sure it gets the perfect roll shape. You want it to basically look like a perfect little bundle. Chill the bundle for another 5 minutes in the fridge.

Notice the water in the pan. You really have to fry out all the water of the mushrooms.

6. Pre-heat your oven to 390F/200C. Remove the wellington from the fridge. If desired, use the back of a knife to score your pastry to make it look pretty. Brush the pastry with the egg yolk. Place on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 20-25 minutes. It should come out beautifully golden and crisp. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 1 inch slices. 
We even made a veggie one!