The food: Deconstructed Beef Wellington
After my parents divorced, my mother met, fell in love with, and later married a man named Reg Herman. Reg, who died in 2007, was an old school gourmand whose taste in food sometimes seemed mired in the mid-20th century: he was big on protein-heavy luxury foods like raw oysters, shrimp cocktail, roast duck, steamed whole lobster, Beluga caviar, “fine wines” and Beef Wellington.
It’s not that I don’t like some of these Reg-hyped foods – I do, but I’m sometimes embarrassed to tell people I’m making Beef Wellington, for instance, for fear it’s a dish that’s not so much a classic as passé.
Passé or not, I prepare a deconstructed (and therefore more modern, or should that be post-modern?) version of it for special occasions, like New Year’s Eve. This year, in a coolish month of June, I made it for E’s Father’s Day dinner. He liked it, I liked it, the kids liked it (the beef part, anyway). I bet Reg would have liked it too.
Deconstructed Beef Wellington
2-3 pound beef tenderloin
chicken liver paté or foie gras mousse, about 6-8 T. (1/3 lb.?)
1 lb. sliced fresh mushrooms
frozen puff pastry shells (AKA vols-au-vent)
demi-glace (purchased), about 1/2 c.
1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
2. Sear tenderloin on all sides in 1 T. olive oil over high heat in large pot, 2 – 4 minutes until browned.
3. Remove from pot, place in roasting pan, pat with fresh, chopped rosemary leaves. Insert meat thermometer in middle of roast.
4. Roast for about 30 minutes, then check internal temperature at 5 minute intervals until desired temperature is reached (150 F for medium rare.)
5. Meanwhile, sauté mushrooms in 1 T. olive oil until nicely browned, about 5 minutes, add paté cut in chunks to taste. Stir in paté and let melt into mushrooms.
6. Remove beef from oven when done to taste. Let roast rest in pan outside oven for 10 – 15 minutes.
7. Increase oven temperature to 400 F and place puff pastry shells, on baking sheet, into oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove pastry lid with fork.
8. Slice tenderloin into 1/4 inch thick slices, then cut slices into 1 inch long strips.
9. To serve, cut slightly cooled pastry shell in half vertically and spread on plate. Nestle spoonfuls of mushroom paté mixture and slices of beef inside and outside of the shell in an artful manner. Drizzle with warm demi-glace and serve with dollops of mustard and horseradish alongside.