February 16th

Day 47 — I made Beef Wellington for the first time today!  It was delicious.  I would like to try one that — say — Gordon Ramsay made — just so I had something to compare to, but I do believe mine was pretty tasty.  As I age and try these wonderful things my only regret is that I didn’t try sooner.


Saturday — A First

Today, I made Beef Wellington.  It is something I’ve been dying to try since watching the hell Chef Ramsay puts contestants through on Hell’s Kitchen.  It has always seemed to me to be a dish of such distinction, and he (Ramsay) is obviously very passionate about it.

I started by researching his recipes and found a couple of variations he uses online.  I chose the one that does not use mustard.  I watched a couple of videos of him preparing it.  It seemed simple enough.  Though I’ve heard it took him 10 years to master the perfect Beef Wellington.

Because it was Valentine’s Day this week, I decided that this weekend would be the perfect time to try my hand at this dish.  I made a special trip to a local butcher to purchase the tenderloin to ensure that I had the best cut of meat.  And then I waited for today to roll around.

Here’s just a little bit of background about BW:

Beef Wellington is a traditional English preparation of beef tenderloin coated with pâté (often pâté de foie gras) and duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. Some recipes include wrapping the coated meat in a crêpe to retain the moisture and prevent it from making the pastry soggy.

The origin of the name is unclear.[1] Some theories suggest beef Wellington is named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington; other theories go a step further and suggest this was due to his love of a dish of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine, and pâté cooked in pastry, but with a noted lack of evidence to support this.[2] Other accounts simply credit the name to a patriotic chef wanting to give an English name to a variation on the French filet de bœuf en croûte during the Napoleonic Wars. Still another theory is the dish is not named after the Duke himself, but rather the finished fillet was thought to resemble one of the brown shiny military boots which were named after him.[3] Clarissa Dickson Wright, celebrity chef and co-host of the BBC cooking show Two Fat Ladies, maintains that the dish “has nothing to do with that splendid hero, the Duke of Wellington; it was invented for a civic reception in Wellington, New Zealand, but it is a splendid addition to any party.”[4]

“Wellington” is sometimes informally used to describe other dishes in which meat is baked in a puff pastry; the most common variations are sausage Wellington, lamb Wellington and salmon Wellington.

The above taken from Wikipedia.  This link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef_Wellington

With recipe at the ready I began prepping this morning.  I made the duxelle and wrapped the tenderloin (much trickier than Chef Ramsay makes it seem in his video) and put it in the fridge.  I was actually surprised at how simple the recipe really is.  I think where the mastery comes in is in the wrapping and presentation.  You will see from my pictures that mine is not as fancy or as perfect as something coming out of a Michelin starred restaurant.

I even managed to get in a nap this afternoon, that’s how low-key I found making the beef Wellington was.

There was only one hiccup — for some reason when I put it in the oven to cook for the last 20 minutes the pastry didn’t brown and the oven did not seem hot enough.  So, I had to put the oven on convection and increase the time by 15 minutes.  I was worried it would be over-cooked.  But far from it.  It came out perfect.  Exactly the way we like it — medium rare.

To accompany this special dish I made roasted white and sweet potatoes seasoned with lemon juice, garlic, and oregano.  I blanched some broccoli and made a baby romaine and strawberry salad with a vinaigrette dressing of lemon infused olive oil and white balsamic vinegar seasoned with lemon-lavendar salt and fresh ground pepper.

My husband was very impressed.  And so was I.  It might not be the prettiest Wellington ever made, but for my first attempt I’m pretty damned proud of myself.

I would definitely make this for guests.