Sunday, November 27, 2011

Beef Wellington

While working at Harter House Supermarket, I often talk recipes with customers. After a recent conversation, I had an inkling to make Beef Wellington, beef tenderloin smothered with mushroom duxelles, wrapped in puff pastry and baked.

Mushroom Duxelles is a recipe from very classic French cuisine. It's a paste-like reduction of finely minced mushrooms that have been slowly cooked with shallots and butter until all the liquid is gone, resulting in an ingredient that adds rich mushroom flavor to other dishes.

Beef Wellington is one of those dishes that was a lot more popular 40 years ago than it is now.

Here's a super simple Recipe for


(4) 6 oz. beef tenderloins cut 1 inch thick.
Let Harter House butchers cut them for you.
(1) Package purchased puff pastry.

1 Cup Chopped mushrooms
1/4 Cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 TBL butter
1 Tsp Dried Thyme
3 TBL flour
3 TBL Cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees
Sear Tenderloins in heavy frying pan in small amount of cooking oil, about 2 minutes each side to seal in the juices. Set adise to cool.

Saute mushrooms and onions in butter; add thyme, flour and cream. Mix well. Set aside to cool.

Roll out each pastry sheet on lightly floured board. Cut sheet into quarters. Spread filling on top of each tenderloin. Set Tenderloin on quarter of pastry and wrapm paatry around tenderloin. and seal completely. Trip top of wrapped tenderloin with pastry scraps as desired.

Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Mushroom Duxelles
Although Duxelles were traditionally used in old-fashioned recipes like Veal Orloff, today it remains a way to add mushroom flavor to dishes that will benefit from this complex taste. For example, several spoonfuls of Duxelles is a perfect base on which to place fillets of white fish, like sea bass, which are then wrapped in parchment paper and baked.

Other uses include adding a heaping spoonful to scrambled eggs or omelets, to a simple pan gravy from your holiday turkey, on top of grilled bread for a luxurious crostini, or stirred into a toasted rice or barley pilaf.

While simple to make, Duxelles take a bit of time -- first to mince all those mushrooms (at least if you're cutting them by hand, which I think produces a far better result than if food processed), and then cooking off all the liquid that mushrooms always produce. But the result is worth the chopping and worth the waiting. I always make extra and invariably find ways to use any leftovers.

8 oz. white button mushrooms (your goal is to produce about 4 cups of finely minced pieces)
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 to 2 small shallots, finely minced (about 1/4 cup)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Tip: While not traditional, you can substitute extra virgin olive oil for the unsalted butter. Choose a gently flavored oil, not one that has a strong, green taste.

Tip: You can easily just double all the quantities and make twice the amount. Leftovers are always useful and won't last long. You can also freeze leftover Duxelles for a month or so and defrost in the refrigerator the night before you plan to use them.

1. Clean the mushrooms to remove any dirt using a damp paper towel or cool water and a soft mushroom brush. Dry completely.
2. Remove any coarse stems and any dark spots.
3. Finely mince the mushrooms. You may use a food processor to do this but be very careful to not purée the mushrooms. Your goal is to have very small but separate pieces.
4. In a large sauté pan over a moderate heat, melt the butter and add the shallots.
5. Sweat the shallots for about 5 minutes in the butter until soft and tender.
6. Add the finely minced mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice, a pinch of salt and several grinds of black pepper.
7. Cook over a moderate to moderately-low heat until the mushrooms throw off their liquid and then re-absorb it, leaving no liquid in the pan. Stir occasionally. This process can take up to 20 minutes. When done the mushrooms will resemble a dark brown, mealy, almost paste-like texture. The quantity will also have been reduced by about half, so 4 cups of finely minced pieces will produce about 2 cups of finished Duxelles.
8. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
9. Let cool before refrigerating or before using in another recipe.