Beef Wellington

2015-01-25 19.07.11

I made a beef wellington!

And I do not mind admitting, I am SO proud of myself.

I really like cooking up savoury dishes, but I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to making this kind of thing. Like most people, I tend to stick to the 5-6 meals I can make without really thinking about, rather than looking up new things to cook. But, I wanted to make something special for my boyfriend’s birthday, so I decided to attempt the wellington and he loved it. He said it was the best thing I’d ever cooked him and I really liked it, too.

I used a recipe from Jamie’s Comfort Food (Although 90% of my cookbooks had a variation in them) and it was actually quite simple and only took about an hour and a half. The effort to impressiveness ratio is high!

As there were only two of us, I made a mini version with a smaller piece of fillet. My small one worked out fine and was actually handy because it fitted exactly in a sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry, but the recipe below serves 4-6.

One word of warning though, this meal is NOT CHEAP. Just for my little two-man version, the fillet I bought from the market cost £18.50. EIGHTEEN POUNDS AND FIFTY PENCE. Once I’d bought all the other bits it came to around £25.00 for the whole meal. This puts beef wellington firmly in the “Birthdays, Christmas and off to prison tomorrow” category as far as I’m concerned.

Beef Wellington (Taken from Jamie’s Comfort Food)

Serves 4-6

  • 1kg centre fillet of beef, trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large knobs unsalted butter
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or Dorot frozen cubes
  • 600g mixed mushrooms (I used chestnut and button, but generally, urgh mushrooms), finely chopped
  • 100g chicken livers, chopped
  • 500g block of puff pastry
  • 50g breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • Worcestershire sauce
  1. Preheat a large frying pan on a high heat and add the oil, butter and rosemary.
  2. Season the beef with the salt and pepper, then seal by turning it regularly with tongs for about 4 minutes. Take it out the pan and put it aside on a plate.
  3. In the same pan, fry the onion and garlic until softened and then add in the mushrooms. Cook for around 15 minutes.
  4. Add in the livers and cook for a few minutes, then tip the contents onto a large board.
  5. Finely chop it all by hand with a big knife, to a spreadable consistency. I used my trusty demi-lune knife for this.
  6. Taste and season, then stir in the breadcrumbs which should hopefully stop the pastry getting too soggy.
  7. Preheat the oven to 210ºC/425ºF/gas 7.
  8. On a flour-dusted surface, roll out the pastry to 30cm x 40cm. As I mentioned earlier, I used pre-rolled puff so I just left it on the waxed paper it came in and didn’t need any flour. This next bit is directly copied from Jamie, as it’s a bit confusing:

“With one of the longer edges in front of you, spread the mushroom pâté over the pastry, leaving a 5cm gap at either end and at the edge furthest away from you – eggwash these edges. Sit the beef on the pâté, then, starting with the edge nearest you, snugly wrap the pastry around the beef, pinching the ends to seal.”

Basically, fold it over itself and squash down the edges.

  1. Transfer the Wellington to a large baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, with the pastry seal at the bottom and brush all over with eggwash.
  2. Before it goes in the oven, heat the tray for a few minutes on the hob to crisp up the base, then transfer to the oven and cook for around 40 minutes.

For the timing, I wasn’t sure how long to cook it as I’d used a much smaller piece of beef. I cooked it for about 35 minutes in the end and it was very rare, which is fine for my boyfriend and me (we eat like wolves) but I know not everyone likes their beef like that. As for the breadcrumb trick, the pastry was a little soggy but not bad. Ooh, one more thing; I couldn’t find chicken livers when I was shopping so I just used some Crème Fraiche I found in the fridge to make it creamy. Turned out fine.

A few other recipes I’d looked at suggested making dauphinoise potatoes to go with a wellington but as the portions turned out enormous we just had ours with broccoli and some onion gravy. Classy!

This week I’m sure I’ll be straight back to my usual bolognaise, Thai curry and chili routine but I’m pleased I made the effort with this. I’ll be riding the smugness for weeks to come!

Clare xx

@ClareErin

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2015-01-25 19.07.11

My Spaghetti Bolognaise

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I think all families have their own special way of making spaghetti bolognaise. A recipe that everyone can knock up without even thinking about it, just because they’ve seen it being made 1000 times before, by various members of the family. Some might involve tomato ketchup, chorizo or even baked beans. This recipe is how my family make a bolognaise, and it’s the best ever, obviously.

When I was little, spaghetti bolognaise was definitely my dad’s domain and we ate it at least once a week. I still don’t know what he put in it (and he’ll never tell, my dad is the ultimate “I swear, I’ve added nothing” liar), but it was the spiciest food I’ve ever tasted. Seriously, I remember one of us crying once, it was so hot. Until I was about 16, I honestly thought authentic Italian food had to be about as hot as your average Vindaloo. Obviously, now when I make this myself, I don’t add the mystery ingredient that made dad’s bolognaise taste like fire, but it’s still pretty much the same apart from that.

When I cook this for myself, I like to use the absolute cheapest, value, probably-horse-meat mince I can find; the one I used in the pictures is from Farm Foods. This low-quality mince means that it breaks down while cooking, making it all soft and mushy and perfect for eating it out of a bowl on these colder evenings. This is also a great way to get rid of any vegetables that you have hanging around; my recipe lists carrots, celery, pepper and courgette, but that’s just what I happened to have in the fridge.

Spaghetti Bolognaise (Serves 3-4)

• 250g frozen minced beef
• 1 large onion, chopped finely
• 1 clove garlic (I use frozen Dorot garlic, so much easier!)
• 2 carrots, cut into small pieces
• 2 sticks of celery, halved and chopped finely
• 1 red or yellow pepper, cut into small pieces
• 1 small courgette, halved and chopped finely
• 1 tinned of chopped tomatoes
• Big squeeze of tomato puree
• 1 beef stock cube
• 2 tablespoons of gravy granules
• Sprinkle of Italian seasoning
• Worcestershire Sauce, to taste
• Salt and pepper
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Method

1. Over a medium heat, cook the onion, garlic, carrots and Italian seasoning until the onions are softened and starting to colour. Add the mince and cook until browned.
2. Pour in the tin of chopped tomatoes and about half the tin of water. Add the celery, pepper and courgette and stir.
3. Add the gravy granules, the tomato puree and sprinkle over the beef stock cube. Add the salt and pepper and Worcestershire Sauce, to taste.
4. Bring to the boil and let it cook away for a few minutes. Keep stirring so it doesn’t catch. If it starts to taste a bit salty at this point, stir in a teaspoon of white sugar.
5. Turn down to a low heat and ignore it until you’re hungry, stirring occasionally. When you are ready to eat, stir in a spoonful of pasta water to loosen up the bolognaise a bit and serve.

I usually eat this with wholemeal pasta (it was hard, but I’ve FINALLY weaned myself off white pasta and bread), but it’s just as good over a jacket potato. Or, if you’re feeling really lazy, simply out a bowl, using a mini pitta as an edible spoon. Just don’t forget to add lots of cheese and pepper.

A few points:

• This is really, really cheap to make, I think less than £2.00 per serving for meat and vegetables (Especially if you use cheap mince like me!)
• About 210 calories per serving, before any pasta or cheese
• If you have loads of veg to use up, it is definitely worth making lots of this and freezing in portions. Bolognaise tastes even better when it’s been frozen or chilled for a few days

Now enjoy this cold weather, get under a blanket and enjoy this lazy dinner!

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