Sunday, February 13, 2011

Beef Wellington with Red Wine Jus

The origins of the name Beef Wellington seem to have been lost in time although the various ideas include: it was the Duke of Wellington's favourite dish; it was first made for a dinner reception in Wellington, New Zealand; and a variety of others. I was concerned this could be a bit fiddly to make and that it wouldn't live up to Ainsley Harriott's claims of 'Meals in Minutes' but I was pleased to find that I was wrong. Very easy to make, quick to put together and once you pop it in the oven then you're free to chill out for half an hour...perfect.

The actual recipe contains chicken liver pate but I left this out since pate is not something I would ever choose to eat. Despite this omission, Simon declared Beef Wellington a 10/10 and this is definitely a meal that I will be making for a dinner party at some point - impressive for guests and low-stress for me (plus they can be prepared in advance and popped in the oven once the guests arrive). The only thing I need to work on is my presentation since my parcels didn't turn out looking quite as good as Ainsley's, so it's a scan of his photo below - not mine!

50g unsalted butter
2 tbsps olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed (I of course left these out!)
225g flat / button mushrooms, finely diced
10g dried porcini mushrooms (I left these out too but if you're using them then soak them in boiling water for 20 mins, then drain and finely dice)
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
4 fillet steaks (around 150g each and about 2.5cm thick)
100g smooth chicken liver pate
250g ready-made puff pastry
Plain flour for dusting
1 large egg, beaten
175ml red wine

1. Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees (425 degrees fahrenheit / gas mark 7).
2. Melt half the butter with half the oil and add the onion, garlic and mushrooms. Saute for 10 mins until tender and liquid has all evaporated.
3. Stir parsley into cooked mushrooms, tip everything into a bowl and leave to cool.
4. Season the steaks, wipe out the pan used for the mushrooms and heat it until hot. Once hot, add the remaining oil and sear the steaks on both sides.
5. Leave the steaks to cool. Don't wash the pan because you need it later with the meat juices in it!
6. Cut the pastry into 4 pieces and roll out each piece on a floured surface to about 20cm square. I had ready-rolled pastry and just cut the piece in half for my 2 steaks.
7. Brush the edges of the pastry with the beaten egg.
8. Divide the mushroom mixture between the 4 squares.
9. Spread pate over each steak and place the steak on top of the mushrooms, pate side down.
10. Bring up the 2 opposite corners of pastry to overlap over the steak and seal together. Repeat with the other 2 corners and ensure all edges are sealed. Brush with the beaten egg.
11. Place on a pre-heated non-stick baking sheet and bake in the oven for 25 mins for medium-rare and 5 mins extra depending how well done you want the steak (mine cooked for 40 mins). I was concerned that I hadn't 'pricked' the pastry for steam to escape but this proved not to be an issue and as the oven is so hot, the pastry didn't get soggy on the bottom - which had been my other concern.

What I don't understand when I look at Ainsley's picture, though, is that it shows the mushrooms on top of the steak whereas the recipe has the steak on top of the mushrooms! To get this same presentation, when you put the parcels on the baking tray you would need to put the side with the pastry edges on the bottom - simply turning it over once it's cooked wouldn't work because the bottom won't be crispy like the top. My parcels had the mushrooms under the steak and they tasted delicious in any case.

To make the red wine jus:
1. Place the frying pan used to cook the mushrooms and steaks on the heat.
2. Pour in the wine and simmer to reduce by two-thirds.
3. Stir in the remaining butter (or you could stir in some cream, or do like I did and add nothing else) and season.

Serve it with whatever takes your fancy. Ainsley recommends broccoli, I had broccoli as well as other veg and a small baked potato each. I have a feeling I'll be making this again very soon!