Recipe Review: Beef Wellington

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Saturday was an opportunity to try out a really special recipe – Beef Wellington.  It was the seven year anniversary of meeting my husband, so after creating our anniversary cards using Photoshop in the morning, we went out to the pub where we met, and then went home to do some serious cooking.  I tend to be the one who cooks the most, but my husband is rather good at being given a recipe and just getting on with it (although sometimes he does do some interesting substitutions without asking!).  We both love beef, steak in particular, and there was an offer on Ocado for a whole fillet of 1.2kg for £30, which is cheaper than I’ve seen it elsewhere.  I cut it roughly in half for this recipe, and bunged the other half in the freezer for Christmas.

Here was the menu:

Truffle butter on brown toasts;
Pommeau de Normandie (apple juice mixed with young Calvados to make a fortified wine strength drink)

Beef Wellington served with Dauphinoise Potatoes and Tenderstem Broccoli;
St Emilion Bordeaux (one of the most reliable regions for good quality Bordeaux)

Sabayon made with Amaretto

The truffle butter was quite simply butter left on top of the coffee machine to soften, mashed up with grated truffles (from a French friend who has them growing around his house) then put back in the fridge until needed.  Gorgeous – love a simple recipe like that.

The Beef Wellington recipe I followed was the BBC Good Food version although I found the photos of each stage on Simply Recipes to be incredibly helpful (not sure why they don’t include the wine and thyme in the mushroom duxelle although they do use English Mustard which the BBC Good Food version doesn’t so perhaps that might be why).  I have to say that I think a lot of people will be put off by the apparent difficulty of this recipe – although to be perfectly honest, with the photos and tips from the Simply Recipes site it was incredibly easy, as well as being delicious.   I tend to do a lot of research on the internet before trying new recipes – I look to see what people are varying across each version and see what stays the same, as well as trying to find ones that don’t use ingredients I either don’t have or don’t want to use.  My variation was to use Charroux Pourpre de St Pourcain Mustard – a very mild fruity mustard which goes really well with beef/wine/mushrooms etc.  Unfortunately while Charroux original mustard can be found in speciality food shops (I hear it goes for $35 per pot in New York!) outside of the Auvergne region in France the Pourpre variety is unheard of.  It is made with red wine from the St Pourcain region and is a good mild mustard.  I am lucky enough to get to stay with friends who live about 15km away from Charroux (a medieval village worth a detour if you’re driving down the A71 in France) so I’ve been unashamedly eating it forever – and bringing home the 1kg pots  of the two main types for myself (and to decant for family and friends).  I think last summer when I picked up my most recent pot, it was still going for about €20 per kilo.  Not bad going really, since the one website I found it on charges $20 for the tiny 100g pots which are sold for €4.50 in Charroux.

The dauphinoise potatoes was the husband’s dish – I handed him a recipe from the BBC Food website and he just got on with it – and they came out just right.  Another reason I’m glad I married him!

The Sabayon is a super-secret recipe from another French friend – who has specifically requested it be kept quiet and not shared.  I’m pretty sure that most recipes for Sabayon are pretty similar, but I’ll give you a hint – the quantities are really important as all yolks are not the same size… so adjust your quantities appropriately!   The two tips for a successful Sabayon firstly is to keep whisking and make sure that the whole lot has emulsified properly before serving (liquid can be hiding underneath the froth and you want everything to be evenly frothy).  Secondly, beware of scrambling those yolks – never let the bottom of the bain marie bowl touch the water below.

Overall a very lovely romantic day spent with my husband finished with a ridiculously rich meal.  I think next time something a bit lighter for pudding might be a good idea…  A sorbet perhaps.