It must be freezing in hell right now, because a couple weeks ago, J-Cat decided that he loves to cook. I don't think it should be too surprising that I have mixed feelings about this development. On the one hand, it is awfully nice to get cooked for, for a change. It's also nice that he finally understands why I love it as much as I do. But on the other hand...my kitchen.
Because J-Cat is not just someone who wants to cook; he wants to experiment. It's not fun for him unless it is some complicated undertaking that has maybe a 50/50 chance of being a disaster. The first big dinner he cooked for me? Beef Wellington. Because cooking a nice steak or a roast the very first time he ever cooked meat is not enough of a challenge, he had to go that giant leap forward and tackle the infamously tricky Beef Wellington. But let me just say, it really was quite good. I only had to step in a couple of times, and I only had a small heart attack when I saw the state of my kitchen at the end of the night.
The mushroom duxelle that he spread all over the tenderloin was so yummy that we spread the extra on bread and turned it into an appetizer. The meat itself was cooked to a lovely medium-rare, and cut like butter. The puff pastry was appropriately thin and crisp and shining with an egg wash. It was thoroughly impressive. And thank god for that, cause we spent a small fortune on the ingredients. My nerves may have been shot for the whole afternoon that he was tinkering in there, but this lovely dinner - which he made for our anniversary - more than made up for it.
He served the wellington with a side of truffled mashed potatoes, proving that after all these years, he does know the way to my heart after all. Recipe after the jump:
J-CAT'S BEEF WELLINGTON
1 lb beef tenderloin fillet
salt and pepper
1 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
1/2 cup mushroom duxelle, recipe follows
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted
2 egg yolks, beaten
Mushroom Duxelle (this recipe makes extra, and is delicious spread on baguette on crackers)
1 shallot, diced
1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, rough chop
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, rough chop
1 tbsp unsalted butter
salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400F. Generously salt and pepper the tenderloin fillet. Heat the canola oil in a heavy skillet over high heat. Sear the fillet on all sides until brown. Remove from the heat and allow to cool while you assemble the duxelle.
Place the roughly chopped mushrooms and shallots in a food processor and process until it turns into a paste. Melt the butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the mushroom paste to the butter and saute until it begins to release liquid. Lower the heat and allow to simmer until the liquid evaporates. Set aside to cool.
When the fillet has cooled, brush on all sides with the mustard. Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap. Place the slices of prosciutto slightly overlapping on the plastic wrap, making the layer of prosciutto about as wide as the fillet is long. Spread the cooled duxelle evenly on the prosciutto. Set the fillet on the edge of the prosciutto and roll the prosciutto around the fillet. Wrap in the plastic wrap tightly and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, roll out the sheet of pastry on a lightly floured board to a size that will fully wrap around the beef. Place the cooled fillet in the middle of the pastry. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash, the fold over the fillet and seal. Fold the sides up and over to cover the edges. Make sure the seal the edges well with the egg wash. Turn the wellington seam side down, brush the entire surface with egg wash. Cut shallow slits in the surface of the pastry. Place on a baking sheet and refrigerate for about 10 minutes.
Remove the wellington from the refrigerator and give it an additional brush of egg wash. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown and the internal temperature of the meat is 125-130 for medium rare. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing. Slice into 1-inch thick slices to serve. Serves 4.