Monday, December 28, 2009

Beef Wellington, for Two

Beef Wellington with Madeira Sauce
Recipe courtesy of Cooking for Two by America's Test Kitchen

It being the holiday season, Stephanie and I have been indulging quite a bit.  We've both made a commitment to get back on track with eating healthier (so expect to see some more Meatless Mondays and maybe even a Meatless Thursday now and again).  However, I wanted to have one more decadent and rich meal before I started counting my points and watching my intake...hence, beef wellington.

Traditionally, beef wellington is a tenderloin roast, smeared with foie gras pate and duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry and baked.  However, there are a few things that can hold a chef back when trying to cook this recipe at home for 2 people, most primary being the cost.  A whole beef tenderloin?  Too much meat for too much money.  Foie gras pate?  Wegmans had D'Artagnan Mousse of Duck Foie Gras for $27 per 8 oz tub (quite the markup, don't you think?).  The other issue is the actual cooking of the dish:  to get the steak perfectly cooked while having the puff pastry baked to completion at the same time is something that chefs go to college for.  Not exactly something I was willing to undertake lightly.

The solution, as elegantly presented by the Test Kitchen, is to cook the beef and the pastry separately, then combine them together in the end.  Not the most elegant solution, but it still provides all the flavors, if not the perfectly gift-wrapped package.

There's the tenderloin filets, trimmed, tied, and browning.  From there, they were destined to go to the oven for a nice 10 minute roast.  While the beef was in the oven, I assmebled my sauce ingredients.  Mushrooms, shallots, Madeira wine, parsley, thyme, Dijon mustard and lemon juice.  All that went into the saute pan after the beef went in the oven.

Those puff pastry squares were made by cutting a sheet of puff pastry into quarters.  The more interesting picture is my liver-smeared beef tenderloins.  Not spending a boatload on duck foie gras mousse, I called my emergency hotline for all things food - my mother (of course).  She recommended that since I couldn't get duck liver or chicken liver mousse, that I just buy a liverwurst and go with that (I chose Schaller and Weber calves' liver pate, since I felt that the flavor should be more complementary to beef than a pork liver pate).  The pate melted on the meat while the steaks rested.  The pastry squares were split, the meat was plated and the mushroom-Madeira sauce was poured all over.  The result?


Rob Timko said...

Liverwurst - Interesting!

I'm not sure Gordon Ramsay would approve of short cutting this recipe, but hey, you should see the short cutted Tikka Masala Laurie is cooking up right now! haha.

Looks good. Now you made me crave Liverwurst. The european provisions deli down the street from me makes a MEAN goose liverwurst that they put on rye with a slice of onion and some mustard....

On the tenderloin. Shoprite, about once a month has whole tenderloin on sale for like 4.99 a lb. you can get a whole tenderloin for 25$ and it's fun to portion it and butcher it up yourself. Laurie swears that the last one we got was one of the best cuts of meat she's eaten.

I'm assuming it all came together well? I have never had wellington, so I'm reluctant to attempt to cook it. I wanted to do a whole 70's cuisine theme party once, where I did a bunch of aspic gelled stuff, wellington and then baked alaska! Haha.

Alex said...

I definitely was thinking about Ramsay screaming at poor saps in Hell's Kitchen who dared screw up his Wellingtons. Steph mentioned the same thing while I was cooking.

You should hang out with my mom - she is planning to eat the leftover liverwurst on an toasted english muffin with butter and minced onion.

How'd it come out? It was delicious, super-rich and full of flavor. I'm not the biggest fan of tenderloin, but this was pretty good, and I'd make it again (if I wasn't starting on watching my food intake starting today). As far as making a real Wellington, I feel like it's a real tricky thing to get your pastry fully cooked while getting your meat to the proper temperature. If you're interested, I'll pull the CIA recipe and e-mail it to you.

Additions to your 70s theme party: Steak fondue and bundt cake. Win and win.