In This Episode of Cooking Meat; John Prepares a Sauce! Stacey Makes Salads!
Individual portions of Beef Wellington prove not to be individual portions!
I love steak! I love cooking steak! And I'm running out of new-to-me ways of cooking steak! Once again it was that time of year for me to make a killer steak for Valentine's Day dinner, and fillet steak was on sale. My wife, Stacey, picked up a couple that were beautiful looking, but I really wanted to kick up Valentine's Day dinner a couple of notches to make it extra special for her.
I decided what better way of preparing some good looking fillets than to try making individual servings of Beef Wellington; a dish I think I've only ever had on one or two occasions in my life. I read a handful of recipes to get a general sense for what is going on in this dish and to figure out what ingredients I would need. The origins of Beef Wellington seem a little muddy, as variations of this dish exist in many different countries. But, Beef Wellington seems to fit well with having a British origin, as the Brits seem to have a thing for meats served in pastry. And I like meat served in pastry! But typically, Beef Wellington is fillet steak in a pastry with duxelles, pâté, and Prosciutto. I was going to get my ass in the kitchen and get cooking!
I started out pretty simply by making the Duxelles; a paste of mushrooms, shallots, and garlic. I say simply, but in truth, I had a bit of an issue when my food processor started to liquefy my mushrooms! Mushrooms and garlic went into the food processor for a rough chopping, but came out a little smoother than I intended. No worries, it was okay to work with and it still came out pretty good. I sautéed some finely chopped shallot in butter before pouring the mushroom/garlic mixture into the pan. I let the heat cook some of the water out of the mushroom paste before adding a little drizzle of olive oil, and heated just a touch longer until the paste darkened and thickened slightly. Then I removed it from the heat and set it aside to cool.
8 oz. of mushrooms and some garlic crammed into a food processor.
8 oz. of mushroom and garlic goop!
Sautéing finely chopped shallots.
Stir in the mushroom goop!
After a little heat and olive oil, I have fancy mushroom goop. I mean duxelle!
Next, it was time to prepare the steak! I started with two beautiful choice grade fillet steaks that Stacey had picked out from my favorite place to source beef; Sprouts Farmer's Market. In articles I've written in the past, I have spoken of my high regard for the meat from Sprouts! The flavor and texture of their beef is so much better than that of the other supermarkets in our area. I simply seasoned the steaks with garlic salt and fresh ground pepper, and prepared a pan with hot butter to quickly brown the outside of the steaks. I made sure to only brown the steaks quickly, flipping them with tongs and making sure to hit the edges too.
A quick sear in hot butter!
Too bad you can't smell these!
Once the steaks had been browned, I set them aside on a plate and prepared the pastry wrap. I used Pepperidge Farm puff pastry wrap from the freezer section of the local grocery store; it comes in a box folded up, is pretty easy to handle, but needs to be thawed before use. I placed a square of the puff pastry down on a sheet of cling wrap, and layered out Prosciutto on top of that. Then I spread half of the duxelles on the Prosciutto, before placing a steak in the middle. I folded the Prosciutto (containing the duxelles) over the steak, and then folded the puff pastry over the Prosciutto. I used the plastic wrap to cover the whole neat little package and form up the individual Beef Wellington nice and tight. I think it's important to note here that I did not use any pâté. I would like to try it, but I'm not so sure about my wife.
Puff pastry and Prosciutto.
All ready to be wrapped up!
All wrapped up and formed up nicely!
The last steps before throwing these into the oven to bake is all about appearance. I scored the tops of the individual Beef Wellingtons lightly with a knife in a cross-hatched pattern. I then brushed them with an egg wash, before placing puff pastry leaves on top.
All ready to go into the oven.
The Beef Wellington went into an oven preheated to 400 degrees, with a temperature probe in the center of the larger fillet. While the Beef Wellington was cooking, it was time to prepare a red wine sauce. I sautéed some more finely chopped shallot, added some red wine, flour, and then beef stock, and allowed it to reduce and thicken with a bay leaf and some thyme. Once the sauce was ready, it was almost time to get the Beef Wellingtons out of the oven. I plated some of Stacey's awesome mashed potatoes, and ladled some of the red wine sauce onto the plate. When the largest Beef Wellington hit an internal temperature of 125°F, allowing for the temperature to continue to coast higher, I pulled the pastry wrapped steaks from the oven and placed one on each plate, and then allowed for them to rest for just a couple of minutes before serving.
Stacey put together two Caesar salads to go with dinner, because Caesar salad just seems to go so well with any steak dinner! The Beef Wellington came out sooooooooo damn good! They were perfectly cooked to a lower mid-rare (for me) and mid rare (for Stacey). The taste was out of this world! The steak was very beefy and tender, and that went well with the mild earthiness of the duxelle. The Prosciutto provided a nice, light saltiness while the puff pastry shell was nice and buttery. The red wine sauce lent just a hint of acidicness and was perfect with the Beef Wellington and the mashed potatoes. In the future though, I think I will only prepare on Beef Wellington and split it with Stacey, because this was a lot of food! We had left-overs because of being too full. It doesn't help that I ate all of the left over Prosciutto while I was cooking this all up!
A perfect Valentine's Day dinner!