12 April 2015

Family gathering for Easter

Now that we have a fancy dining room with a table that can stretch to fit in the whole family, Lundulph and I invited the whole crowd over for Easter.


My original plan was to make a nice big gyuvetch, however a quick look in the blog showed that I did this last year already, so I had to change my plans.

Instead, I decided on Beef Wellington. I've done this before, but with pork. And I thought I'd do some searching on the internet for more advice, since my previous attempt wasn't that good. Unfortunately I once more opted not to bother with the thin crepes required to wrap the meat in before wrapping with puff pastry, which meant I couldn't prepare everything in advance. I regret skimping on this. But I did skip the creme fraiche in the mushroom/onion mixture and tried to get it as dry as possible. This mixture is referred to as duxelle by the way. This one was made with two onions, some 900 g button mushrooms and about 2 dl parboiled yellowfoot mushrooms from my frozen stock. All finely chopped and fried together with salt, pepper and thyme, until most of the liquid had boiled off and I also squeezed out as much of the remaining liquid as I could and saving the liquid for later.

The meat itself was a large piece of beef tenderloin, which came to over 2 kg and seemed to cost a fortune, however when divided up between the crowd, it's not bad at all and well worth the expense. Lundulph declared that in future this is the only type of meat he'd like to eat. Because the piece of meat was quite large and thick, I cut it in two, so that it would fit in the oven, then browned each with a little butter and then pre-roasted both pieces at 220 ° for 15 minutes. I then let the pieces cool completely, covered in cling film and then put in plastic bag and put in the fridge. I also saved the liquid that had been released for the Madeira sauce.

Because I saved the duxelle and roasting liquids, I was able to make the Madeira sauce in advance, it's slightly different to the one I've done before:

Madeira sauce ingredients

30 g butter
2 onions, peeled and diced
1 litre Madeira wine
liquid from the mushroom duxelle and roasting juices - about 3.5 dl
1 dl water at room temperature
3 tbsp corn flour
6 tbsp whey butter
salt, pepper and thyme


  1. Heat up the butter in a frying pan and fry the onions until they go soft and translucent.
  2. Pour in the Madeira wine and simmer until it's reduced by almost half.
  3. Add the liquid from the mushrooms and roasting juices and simmer for a few more minutes
  4. Dissolve the corn flour in the water, then stir into the sauce to thicken it.
  5. Add the whey butter, salt, pepper and thyme and stir through to make sure everything is well combined.
  6. Serve if ready, or let cool down and keep in the fridge until needed, then re-heat.

Wrapping the beef Wellington was once more quite tricky. I used two packets of puff pastry, but I hadn't thought through how to wrap, so ended up with a lot of folds and it didn't look very pretty. I cut of where I could, while making sure the meat and duxelle were well sealed in. I used a whisked egg to seal and also to brush on top for colour. I then chilled for an hour before baking.

For the final bake, I placed the two Beef Wellingtons on a roasting rack, quite thoughtlessly with a vague idea to prevent soggy bottoms. Of course the pieces sank through the grid, what a silly thing to do! And I also followed the recommendation of only baking for 20 minutes at 200 °C, which was not enough and I had to let things bake for a further 30 minutes until the puff pastry looked like it should. I was worried that this would mean the meat wouldn't be pink in the middle, however this wasn't the case - it turned out rather nice. And my poor guests had to sit with a massive long wait between starter and main course.


But it was not possible to move the Beef Wellingtons off the roasting grid and it was really hard to cut them up.

To go with the meat, I made dauphinoise potatoes, which went down a treat. This time I didn't fill the tray to the brim and so it didn't spill over. I did bake them on the day before and re-heated before serving.

There was plenty to go round and quite a bit for me and Lundulph to eat in the week after, I think Lundulph's had enough of fancy fillet for a while now.

No comments: