Daring Cooks - Beef Wellington

Now while the challenge has been done and I'm too late to post, I did make the dish and made pictures. I'm not happy about my pictures, because I had to make them with the kitchen light on as it was already dark outside. That aside, even though the pictures aren't perfect (I will post them later...) the beef wellington was really nice. I made the pastry myself too! It was a while ago that I made shortcrust pastry, but it was as nice as any other time I made it ages ago. For me the beef wellington was nicer when it was cold. The flavors of the beef came out better that way. And even though the beef was a little overcooked (it's hard to judge whether the meat is done whilst wrapped in a nice pastry ;-) ) it is something I would make again.

Beef Wellington is a preparation of beef tenderloin coated with pâté and duxelles, which is then wrapped in pastry and baked. Some people wrap the coated meat in a herby crêpe to retain the moisture and prevent it making the pastry soggy.
A whole tenderloin may be wrapped and baked, and then sliced for serving, or the tenderloin may be sliced into individual portions prior to wrapping and baking. Many spices may be added to enhance the flavour; some examples are curry, allspice, any grilling mix or ginger.

The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

Beef Wellington
250 gram button mushrooms
2-3 tbsp olive oil
1 sprig of thyme
500 - 600 gram beef fillet, center cut piece
1 tbsp mustard
500 gram of short crust pastry (instructions below)
3 slices of nice ham
1-2 tbsp of milk

For the herb crepes
50 gram all purpose flour
125 ml milk
1 tbsp mixed herbs (chopped, I used rosemary, thyme and parsley)
1 egg
0.5 tbsp butter

1. To make the crepes, whizz the flour, egg and milk with a pinch of salt in a blender or processor until smooth. Pour into a jug and stir in the herbs and some seasoning. Leave to rest.
2. Fry the mushrooms in a little oil until they give up all their moisture and it has evaporated, leaving you with a thick paste. Add the thyme leaves and some seasoning and keep cooking for a few minutes. Cool.
3. Stir the melted butter into the crepe batter, heat a 15 cm crepe pan and oil it lightly. Pour in enough batter to make a thin layer on the base of the pan, cook until the top surface sets and then turn over and cook briefly. Remove and repeat with the rest of the batter. This will make a couple more than you need so choose the thinnest ones for the recipe. (Make sure the crepes are big enough to cover your meat!)
4. Sear the beef all over in a little oil in a very hot pan. Brush with the mustard, season and allow to cool.
5. Lay a large sheet of cling-film on a kitchen surface and put two crepes down on it, overlapping a little. Lay over the ham. Spread the mushroom mixture over the ham and put the beef in the centre. Roll the cling-film up, taking the crepe with it, to wrap the beef completely into a nice neat log. Chill for 1 hour.
6. Heat the oven to 200°C/390F. Roll out the pastry, remove the clingfilm and wrap the beef in the pastry like a parcel, with the ends tucked under. Trim to keep it nice and neat. Brush with milk or egg, score with shallow lines across the top and chill for 20 minutes.
7. Cook for 20 minutes. The best way to test if the meat is done to your liking is to neatly and carefully stick a skewer into the beef, count to three and then test it against your inner wrist. If it is cold, the beef will be raw, if it is warm then the beef will be rare and if it’s hot, it’ll be cooked through. Leave to rest for 20 minutes before carving.

Shortcrust pastry
450 gr of all purpose flour
200 gr cold butter
pinch of salt

1. Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
2. Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. For best results make sure the butter is very cold.