Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Give it some Beef Welly on Christmas Eve

We are a big family and have a 6' x 4' dry wipe board up in the study area (next to the exercise machine / coat stand) where important things get written and stuck up.  It's a great way of communicating with the (seven) kids and when, in the middle of December I posted the question: "What do you want to eat on Christmas Eve" the answer was writ large by our 12 year old Carnivore son: BEEF.

Now we have beef as a treat in our house (In fact the same 12 year old ate so much rib of beef once he had the "meat sweats" all night and had to miss a day off school!) .  I like to buy properly cared for meat and I wanted to do something "special".

A quick tweet and I had an answer - a very good one too - Beef Wellington and @hollowlegs had the perfect recipe.

I had missed the boat as far as my usual butcher was concerned (Peter Russell in Southdown, Harpenden)  - he'd already closed his books for Christmas orders so I resorted to Donald Russell (no relation I'm sure) who I had used before and although expensive were well worth the money.  I ordered the 1.6kg fillet of beef on line for delivery on the 22nd - plenty of time to thaw it out and get to work.

I started the day before by finely chopping a whole kilo of button mushrooms in a little butter until nearly all the moisture was driven oand then adding fresh thyme, salt and pepper.  The enormous fillet was seared in olive oil then seasoned and a thin layer of hot English mustard applied. These were then both set asside in the fridge to cool.

The day of the feast I prepared herb crepes with tarragon and chive and then laid them out overlapping on several sheets of overlapping clingwrap.  On top of the  crepes went a layer of Parma Ham followed by the mushroom paste and finally the beef.

The difficult bit was getting this layer cake wrapped round the beef but with much jiggling and assistance from the resident carnivore (who was desperate to sit and eat the fillet as it was) we made it and left the clingwrap round it and returned it to the back of the Prius (over flow Christmas fridge)

It took two packs of puff pastry to cover this monster - I know I should have made my own but just did not have the time - maybe next year?  Anyway I did manage to cover the whole thing and gave it three layers of egg wash before scoring the top and applying an extra wash of egg for a really deep colour.

With such a big piece of beef I knew it was going to take longer than the 20mins in the recipe I was using.  In fact it took nearly an hour at 180 degrees and then I rested it for 30mins while I finished off the saute potatoes and griddled baby gem letuce.

I served iot with a redwine and balsamic reduction that had a handfull of chopped shallot thrown in at the begining  and I have to say it was the best Wellington I have ever had!

A big thank you to @hollowlegs - her recipie blog can be found here.

1 comment: