I hope everyone had a great Christmas. This year was a bit different for us. For most years in the past quarter of a century, I’d gone to my sister’s house on Christmas morning, after first doing the present opening thing at my house, wherever that was at the time. My sister lives in Atlanta now, though, so there wasn’t a house nearby to go to.
Instead, my wife and I had a nice morning, opening our presents to each other and watching our giant kitten (he’s been with us 1 year now as of December 22) play in the tissue paper. About 3:00 pm, I started getting things ready for dinner, and my mom, my nephew and my niece and nephew-in-law showed up for dinner.
For some reason, I like beef on Christmas, I am finding. We’ve done the hams before, and even a goose, which was really great. But beef just seems to be what I want to fix for Christmas dinner. Maybe it’s because we ate later in the day, I don’t know. The first time I had everyone over for Christmas dinner, I did a nice prime rib.
This year, I decided, with the help of my wife, to do a Beef Wellington. The meal was heavily inspired, by the way, by two of my favorite Food Network chefs, Tyler Florence and Ann Burrell. Tyler Florence does some really appetizing updates on recipes, and Ann Burrell has a show that is all about doing restaurant quality food at home. The Ann Burrell potatoes will be my next entry, followed by one on the salad we had, also inspired heavily by Tyler Florence.
Before moving to the wellington, I had an idea this morning in a book store, looking at Tyler Florence cook books. I picked up “Dinner At My Place” today, and I’m going to be doing my own take (using the grill or smoker) or just doing the straight recipe on dishes from the book over the next year, maybe 1-2 per month. I really like his approach to cooking, and I’ve found myself wanting to try more of his dishes. I don’t find that with many chefs, so I thought it would be fun to explore that. Hopefully, those of you reading will think so, too!
Doing a Beef Wellington meant I needed just a few things:
- a whole beef tenderloin
- 1 1/2 pounds of button mushrooms
- puff pastry sheets
- 12 slices of proscuitto
- one shallot
- fresh thyme
- dijon or grainy mustard
I had originally thought I would do the wellington in the oven for convenience, but our oven was out for the week due to what turned out to be very simple. This meant, though, that I was going to be doing everything on the Big Green Egg, which I was perfectly alright with doing!
The process of doing the wellington seems complicated, but I think it only is the first time you do it. I made a couple of mistakes along the way… I forgot to take the string off that was tied around the tenderloin, and I got proscuitto slices too thin, so the mushrooms tried to make a run for it along a couple of spots, though this wasn’t too bad. I also forgot to spread on the mustard, but I’m not sure if this changed anything, really.
The first thing I did was to chop up the mushrooms as finely as I could. I don’t have a food processor due to lack of counter space, but that would have made this part much quicker! I added the mushrooms to a dry skillet, along with a chopped up shallot, and put it over medium heat, trying to get out a lot of the water. I took the mushrooms off once it seemed no more water was really coming out. They were still springy, but not wet.
I set aside the mushrooms, and used the same skillet (after cleaning it) to sear the beef tenderloin on all sides, about 30 seconds per side. I set aside the skillet for a sauce to be made later. The tenderloin has already been trimmed of any fat. it was kind of folded over on the thinner end and tied together to make the whole thing about the same thickness.
I laid out the 12 slices of proscuitto, overlapping by about half, then spread the mushrooms on that, along with fresh thyme. I put the tenderloin along one edge of the proscuitto/mushroom layer, and did my best to roll all this up. Thicker proscuitto would help here, and doing this on top of plastic wrap would help, too, as I had to lift the rolled up tenderloin to get it on plastic wrap. Once rolled up tightly, the whole thing went into the fridge for 30 minutes.
I bought frozen puff pastry, so I had to take the 2 sheets in the package out and press them together into one longer sheet. I then rolled the whole thing out thinner, to about 1/4″ thick. The tenderloin went into the middle of this, and I pulled the pastry up over the tenderloin. I used an egg wash as glue to then pull the other side of the pasty up to seal it, followed by egg-washing the exposed pastry.
I turned the whole thing over so it was seam side down onto a cookie sheet and added egg wash to all the exposed pastry, making sure the ends were well closed, too. I cut off the excess pastry and used that to make some leaves. This is one thing I wish I’d taken more time on. I did 4 leaves, which I put right along the top, and the worked fine, but I wish I’d done about 3 times as many, making the top more leaf-laden, just for better presentation.
The wellington went on the BGE for about 40 minutes, until it got to 125 or so F, with the BGE at about 425. About 30 minutes after it went on, I heated up the pan in which I seared the tenderloin and added a couple cups of beef stock. I whisked up the fond in the pan (the meat bits that stuck) and let the liquid reduce by about half. I then added a cup of cream and coarse ground pepper. I used this sauce to serve over the wellington.
I was afraid the meat got a little overcooked, as I was also fiddling with potatoes from Ann Burrell’s show, but the meat turned out just great, even if it did still have the string tied around it!
I’m sorry there are no shots of the wellington on the Big Green Egg, but it was Christmas, and I was kind of busy! Maybe I’ll do it again to just try it without the distractions. We had the meal with a really nice unfiltered Medoc… Bordeaux just seemed right for this!
I hope you also enjoyed a great Christmas meal. The cooking was fun, but having family here to share it with us was even better.