Monday, February 25, 2008

And the oscar goes to.....

No Country for Old Men takes the best picture! I saw this last week and very much enjoyed it, despite all the bad reviews from friends and colleagues. I also saw There will be blood a while back and greatly enjoyed that as well. Danny boy did an amazing job in this movie as he has with every other role. All in all a good night, with satisfying results.
That’s more than can be said for the bland performance in the kitchen last night. A friend and I decided to make beef Wellington, with no recipe. We scratched it together with things we thought would work and fit into what we thought was Wellington. We then decided on roasted garlic and cheddar mashed potatoes and corn for sides. We used Pillsbury Crescent roll dough and bacon to wrap the tenderloin, and bought a roll of pork pate to top the beef. We almost didn’t have enough pate to top the beef after we ate half of it. I rushed the potatoes and had to mash them for quite some time to get the uncooked pieces spread out. We let the sauce made with the seared beef and bacon jus separate when we put butter in to thicken, so the delicious sauce we had not even 5 minutes before serving, was a curdled mess by the time we were plating. The “Wellingtons” came out fine, albeit, amateur. The mashed potatoes were decent save for the occasional raw bit, and the corn (out of a can) was PERFECT! All in all a fun project that turned out fairly well, considering we had no idea how to actually make beef Wellington. Just goes to show you that getting in there at diving off the deep end of the kitchen can yield very enjoyable results. Here is a proper beef Wellington recipe found on cooks.com, so you can go in prepared with a pastry recipe and a filling recipe. And remember, don’t rush the potatoes it can make the difference between a great meal and a decent “food project”.

(4 or 5 oz.) filet Mignon1 1/3 tsp. salt1/4 plus a pinch of pepper2/3 c. chopped onion2/3 c. chopped carrots2/3 c. chopped celery1/3 c. plus 2 tbsp. vegetable oil3 tbsp. brandy, 1 c. red wine3/4 tsp. fines herbs1 1/3 tbsp. butterMushroom filling, recipe belowPastry, recipe below3 egg yolks3 tsp. water2 2/3 c. beef broth1 1/3 tbsp. tomato paste2 2/3 tbsp. cornstarch1/3 c. Madeira or other sweet wineDiced fresh mushroomsCarrot curlsCelery fansFresh parsley sprigs
Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper, and place in a shallow dish. Saute onion, carrots, and celery in oil until tender. Add red wine, brandy and herbs. Pour mixture over filets; cover and marinate in refrigerator overnight. Drain steaks, reserving marinade. Saute fillets in butter in a skillet just until lightly browned on both sides. Place filets in pan; cover and freeze 10 minutes. Remove from freezer, and refrigerate 2 hours. Prepare mushroom filling; chill at least 2 hours.
MUSHROOM FILLING:
2 2/3 lb. fresh mushrooms, finely chopped1/3 c. mince green onion3 tbsp. butter1/3 c. Madeira or other dry sweet wineSalt and pepper to taste
Place mushrooms in a clean towel or cheese cloth and squeeze until barely moist, reserving juice. Saute mushrooms and onion in butter; cook over medium heat until all liquid is evaporated. Add salt and pepper. Prepare pastry; chill 2 hours.

PASTRY:
4 c. all purpose flour2 tsp. salt1 c. chilled butter plus 2 tbsp. cubed1/3 c. shortening, chilled1/2 to 2/3 c. ice water
Combine flour and salt in a large bowl; cut in chilled butter and shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle ice water evenly over surface; stir with a fork until all dry ingredients are moistened. Shape dough into a ball. Roll pastry into an 18 inch square on a lightly floured board or pastry cloth; cut into 8 (9 x 6 inch) rectangles. Spread each pastry rectangle with 1/3 cup mushroom filling; top with a filet.
Combine egg yolks and water; brush edges of pastry with egg mixture to seal. Fold pastry over, and pinch together. (Trim excess pastry is necessary). Place Wellingtons, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush with egg mixture; repeat after 1 minute. Roll pastry trimming cut into decorative shapes and arrange on top of Wellingtons, if desired. Brush with remaining egg mixture. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until golden brown. Combine reserved marinade, reserved mushroom juice, beef broth, and tomato paste in a saucepan; simmer 1 hour. Dissolve cornstarch in Madeira; stir into broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly until thickened. Garnish with mushrooms, carrots, parsley, celery fans.

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