Where’s the Beef? It’s in the pastry!
I love miniature versions of well known dishes, and these spinach, mushroom, roasted pepper and cheese filled individual Beef Wellingtons are one of my favorite takes on classic Beef Wellington.
Anything Wellington or En Croute always conjures up weddings for me. It seems every nuptial I’ve ever been to gives you a choice between some kind of naked protein and some kind of protein wrapped in pastry.
Your choices are usually something like, Chicken Francese or the Beef Wellington? Eeny meeny miny mo. Oh, of course there’s always a V option, (Vegan or Vegetarian), but I’m not going there today. Today I’m wrapping up a ton of beef with a ton of filling in a ton of pastry. Translation – I’ll have the Beef Wellington, please.
And that is what I usually choose at most weddings, if offered.
When this month’s Daring Cooks challenge was announced, it was for a salmon en croute, with the choice of using another meat such as beef, a la Beef Wellington. I love salmon, especially smoked, but unfortunately, so does everyone close to me (the people I’d be serving it to), but ONLY smoked. Can you believe it? Every single person I might feed does not like salmon unless it’s smoked. I always get the same line..
“I just don’t like salmon unless it’s smoked – you know, like lox”.
When inquired as to why, it’s also always the same answer;
“I dunno, it tastes too fishy.”
Well, apparently they’ve never had a good piece of salmon, but what was I going to do? Prepare a beautiful salmon en croute and beg them to try it again? No, I was going to play it safe and stick with good ole’ beef. Beef tenderloin is wicked expensive, but at least they’ll eat it. (Ironically, I made salmon patties one night, and they loved them. Maybe because I didn’t tell them it was fresh salmon?).
Photo of seared beef filet in tongs courtesy finecooking.com
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. Thanks for a great challenge, Simone!
Now that I got that out of the way, may I say I had to wrestle with a cow to complete this challenge? Okay, a little bit of an exaggeration. What went from four 5-6 oz center cut portions of filet mignon, magically morphed into a whole beef tenderloin. Yep, I decided to make individual Beef Wellingtons, and in order to do so, I had to clean (silver skin, fat etc) and portion up a tubular behemoth of beef that was presented to me;
“It was on sale, Lisa..$18.00 a pound!”
I was initially going to post a few photos of the tenderloin and my butchering mastery (HA!), but reconsidered, figuring that most people had probably seen the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or some Rob Zombie remake (insert favorite slasher movie) at some point in their lives.
Plus, I like to keep it clean for my beautiful and amazing vegetarian and vegan readers.
I really wanted to go a little off the beaten path with these, meaning adding stuff that usually doesn’t mesh with beef, to try and mesh it, but it was imperative (considering the price of tenderloin) they be eaten, and I knew there might be a few inquiries as to what the blueish white stuff was (blue cheese), along with blanched, seasoned spinach, roasty red peppers, strips of marinated, sauteed portobello mushrooms, and caramelized onions, so I stopped there. The general consensus was that it was rich, but oh, so ambrosial! You really can’t go wrong with a whole meal in a flaky, buttery package.
I have a go to recipe for individual beef wellingtons that turns out perfect every.single.time, and I incorporated some of the fillings into the recipe Simone supplied, omitting the mustard, prosciutto and crepes (the blue cheese served as a sog blocker). BUT, then the recipes are almost interchangeable, aren’t they? Well, mine possess a great deal of beefy individuality. Sorry, couldn’t resist the obvious. That said, I used some of the leftover, wonderful puff pastry that I had frozen from the Daring Baker’s September challenge, but I had to incorporate some PF puff pastry since I didn’t have nearly enough to cover and decorate six Beef Wellingtons.
Although it pained me, I had no choice but to cook two of them to preference for two people, and truth be told, cooking beef tenderloin past rare (medium rare is the limit), is sort of like pissing on the Alamo (bonus points for Ozzy reference?). I used to tell this person I used to know that if he kept ordering good cuts of steak well done, or even medium well, the chef just might spit on it.
On the flip side, the other person likes his beef close to mooing (super rare as in, a really good veterinarian could probably bring it back to life), so I had to pull that one out a little early. Doesn’t look too great, does it? Then again, I do love me some steak tartare, but ground beef is much easier to swallow, raw.
All in all, this was one tasty challenge and there was not a crumb left (although I’ve got loads of beef tenderloin cuts in my freezer now). If you’d like the yummy recipes for Salmon en Croute and Beef Wellington, go HERE.