Nothing beats a roast on Sundays. If there is one meal the Brits do well, it's a Sunday Roast. Go into any food serving pub on the weekend, and you will surely find a roast dinner on the menu. Choose your meat of choice and it comes with at least three types of veg, and if you're lucky, a Yorkshire pudding, and of course gravy. You always need gravy with a Sunday roast.
A long, lazy (sometimes boozy) lunch with mates - It has to be one of my favourite things to do on a weekend. I decided to get my fill of meat this past weekend before Meat Free Week started in the UK on the 23rd March.
There is something very medieval and very British about the Beef Wellington and the way it looks. I had never cooked it before and had been wanting to give it a try for some time. So it goes (and this is one version of the origin), this dish was created in commemoration of Duke of Wellington, the guy who defeated Napoleon in the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The same guy who went on to be Prime Minister, twice mind you, and lent his name to the Wellington Boot. That’s quite impressive.
It is essentially a piece of beef encased in a layer of duxelle, parma ham and puff pastry. It’s very similar to the French version filet de bœuf en croute. Perhaps this resemblance wasn’t coincidental, considering the timing of events – a patriotic re-naming of the French dish, maybe?
Encasing the meat keeps it moist and tender, and you definitely need a good serving of sides and home-made gravy using the juices of the roasting tray. Like I said, you always need gravy :)
And how spectacular is it to serve this on the dinner table?
Next time, I might try it with a piece of salmon.
I adapted this recipe from Gordan Ramsey.
Serves 4-6 people
1kg quality beef fillet
3 tbsp olive oil
250g mixed wild mushrooms
10 slices parma ham
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp English mustard
500g ready made short crust pastry
2 egg yolks, beaten
Flour, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF/Gas Mark 7. Place the beef fillet on a roasting tray, brushing it all over with 1 tbsp olive oil and season with pepper. Roast in the oven for 15 mins for medium-rare or 20 mins for medium, depending on how you like your beef. Once the beef is cooked, remove it from the oven to cool and chill it in the fridge for 20 mins. Then brush the mustard all over the beef.
To make the duxelles, place the mushrooms in a food processor and pulse to a breadcrumb mixture, but not a smooth paste. Heat the remainder olive oil and butter in a pan, add the mushrooms, thyme and cook for 10 mins until the mixture is softened and can hold it's shape. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the mixture from the pan to cool and remove the thyme.
Lay out cling film on the work surface that is twice the length of the parma ham. Place another piece of cling film the same length above the first layer of cling film, slightly over lapping it. Lay the parma ham onto the cling film, overlapping each other and creating a double row so that you can roll the beef fillet onto it. Spread the duxelles over the parma ham and place the beef towards one edge of the parma ham. Using the cling film, draw the parma ham up and onto the beef fillet, rolling it and tightening the parma ham as you continue to roll. Place the beef fillet with the cling film still on in the fridge to chill while you roll the pastry.
Dust a work surface with flour. Roll out a third of the pastry into a rectangle about 18 x 30cm and 3mm thickness, and place onto a baking sheet of paper. This will be the base for the beef wellington. Roll out the remainder of the pastry to a rectangle about 28 x 36cm. Remove the beef fillet from the cling film and place it on the centre of the pastry base. Brush the pastry edge, top and side of the beef fillet with the beaten eggs. Carefully lift the second piece of pastry with a rolling pin and drape it on top of the beef fillet. Press the pastry onto the sides of the beef fillet. Trim the pastry joins to about 4cm and using the back of a fork, seal the edges. Brush the pastry all over with the beaten eggs. Use a knife, carefully cut diagonal slits into the pastry, ensuring you don't cut all the way through the pastry. Chill in the fridge for 30 mins.
Pre-heat the oven again to 200ºC/390F/Gas Mark 6. Glaze the beef wellington with some more of the beaten eggs. Cook in the oven for 20-25mins for medium rare or 30 mins for medium. The pastry should be golden and crisp. Let the meat rest for 10 mins before serving.