23rd October 2013
Beef and pastry – two of the best ingredients in any menu. I hosted a dinner party recently, and decided to ‘give it some welly’ (see what I did there?!). I had never made Beef Wellington before, but it seemed like a fun challenge (and I really fancied beef and pastry).
But before I explain the main course, let me show you the starter. O and I got inspiration for this one at a restaurant we visited in Thailand, and have been meaning to make it for a while. I will not claim the credit, he did all the work on this course!
It’s a stuffed tomato, served with the ‘lid’ on. So, we bought one beef tomato per person, sliced the tops off, and then O got to work scooping out the insides. These are then chopped and mixed with mozzarella, basil and seasoning in a bowl, before being spooned back in to the hollowed out tomatoes.
Lids are placed on top, and then we reduced some balsamic vinegar on the stove to decorate for serving. The tomatoes look very pleasing when they’re brought to the table – I think this would work with other fillings as well (maybe goats cheese and pepper?).
Starters munched, onto the Wellington. I’d prepared this in the afternoon, so popped it into the oven as we were serving the starter. It needed about 25 minutes in a hot oven to cook to medium rare.
Firstly, you need to buy some really good beef fillet. This should be from a butcher or the meat counter in a supermarket (be warned, it is a bit pricey…). Around 1kg should serve six people well, but if you can afford more, buy more – you’ll want seconds!
I precooked the fillet (brushed with olive oil) for 15-20 minutes, and then put it in the fridge to chill. While it’s cooling, throw a load of chestnut mushrooms into the food processor and chop them till they’re quite fine. These are then pan fried with butter, oil, thyme and white wine to make the ‘duxelles’.
Use cling film to wrap the fillet in prosciutto ham, with a layer of duxelles between the ham and the beef. The duxelles keeps the beef moist, and the ham will help to prevent the pastry becoming soggy.
When the beef is wrapped, put it back in the fridge to chill (wrapped in cling film still), while you roll out a sheet of puff pastry. You then need to place the fillet on the pastry sheet, and brush the whole lot down with egg yolk. Lay another sheet of pastry over the top, and seal by pressing a spoon around the edges.
Trim the pastry and then decorate the Wellington with the excess, before brushing more egg yolk over everything.
I blobbed the remaining bits of pastry around the tray, because I know people always like extra pastry…
The Wellington can be chilled like this for up to 24 hours before you put it back in the oven.
To my blogging shame, I was too excited with the result and forgot to take a photo of the beef when I’d carved the Wellington into slices. But I can say following reviews that it looked (and tasted) pretty good!
As a side dish, I served an Ottolenghi dish I’d been recommended by K – sweet potato gratin. You can find the recipe on that link. I will hands down be making this again – minimal prep (especially if you can slice the potatoes with a food processor), and so, so delicious. The short story is, you roast sweet potatoes, sage, garlic and cream in the oven and create something magical.
As you can see, the finished gratin will make a big impact (the colour is lovely).
Pudding was raspberry pavlova, washed down with Amarula. We were joined after supper by some neighbours across the road who spotted us dancing through the window. (A little strange, but why not?) So we danced the night away…
What are your go-to dinner party recipes?