1 hour 30 min to 2 hour
serves: 12-16 as starter or 6 as main course
I just turned 30! To celebrate, I decided to throw myself a big, five course, dinner party. I shared our aperitif course on Tuesday. We made delicious 1789 cocktails and paired them some amazing Olive Crisps served with a Green Olive and Almond Tapenade with some Anchovy for extra flavor and some creamy, and delicious Riclettes de Sardines.
The second course in our meal was the entree course. In France, unlike America, entree does not mean the main meal, but in fact means appetizer…a course that follows an aperitif of drinks and little snacks.
For our entree course, we served a trio of (somewhat excessive) delights! We had four dozen Escargot with a shallot and garlic butter, a Duck and Apricot Terrine, and two beautiful Beef Wellingtons. I became really interested in the idea of beef wellingtons after watching a couple seasons of Gordon Ramsay’s various cooking shows. I especially loved seeing the Beef Wellington challenge on Master Chef.
As Gordon says, the star of the dish is a perfectly medium-rare piece of filet mignon, and I wanted to celebrate that! My friend Anwar, who runs International Grocery and Halal Meat, Inc. offered to find me a filet mignon for my dish. What an adventure that was! I came to the shop and he cut open a cow to find the tenderloin for me. I got to watch him butcher the meat and point at the cut I wanted. I ended up with about 3 pounds in two pieces. Thank you Anwar!
Since my perfect filet mignon came with a story, I wanted to make sure it remained the star of the dish. Since we already had a pâté on the table, I decided not to envelop the meat in a foie gras or pate coating, but I did really want the flavor of a beautiful wild mushroom duxelles. I used a mixture of porcini and chanterelle mushrooms, and it was delicious! I spooned my duxelles onto prosciutto and wrapped the log of delicious in some puff pastry.
Since Anwar butchered my filet for me, I asked him to give me the bits of fat and imperfect meat that he trimmed off of my tenderloin. These were beautiful to use in a sauce of wine, meat trimmings, and shallots. The best part, when I went to strain the shallots and meat, I realized that I should save it to put on pasta the next evening!
The filet came out to a perfect medium rare, and my braid patterns turned out lovely on the crust, if I do say so myself. Kirsch had the honors of slicing up the wellington and he did a perfect job, thanks Kirsch!
No French meal is complete without a Cheese Course, which we followed with a round of Cannelés Bordelais and a 3 Tier Vanilla Cake with Raspberry Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting.
Happy Birthday to me!
- 3 pounds of filet mignon, trimmed
- olive oil
- 1/2 pound porcini mushrooms
- 1/2 pound chanterelle mushrooms
- 3 sprigs thyme, stems discarded
- salt and pepper
- 16 ounce pack of puff pastry
- 10-12 slices of prosciutto
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1/2 tablespoon melted butter
- wine sauce:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- a half a pound or so of beef trimmings, or bacon
- 4 large shallots, sliced
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 sprigs thyme, intact
- splash of red or white wine vinegar
- 1 bottle dry red wine
- 3 tablespoons beef stock concentrate
- salt and pepper
- Day before, wrap fillets in plastic and refrigerate to train into log shapes.
- Sear beef in olive oil until browned all over, set aside.
- Add oil to drippings and sauté mushrooms with thyme, salt, and pepper.
Cook 10-15 minutes until browned and liquid absorbed.
Grind in food processor to achieve paste consistency.
- Cut pastry in half if it is not already in two pieces.
On floured counter, roll to be large enough to envelop tenderloins.
Refrigerate until needed.
- Place plastic on counter.
Add 4-6 (depending on the size of your tenderloin) slices of prosciutto, overlapping a bit.
Spread half the duxelles over the prosciutto.
Place browned beef on one end of the prepared prosciutto and wrap the filet up.
Repeat with the second filet.
- Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to chill.
- Brush piece of pastry with egg wash. Wrap meat in puff pastry, trimming extra and sealing the ends. Use any extra pastry to create a beautiful pattern. Wrap up loosely in plastic and refrigerate until ready to bake.
- for the sauce: Heat oil and cook the beef trimmings until browned,
about 4-5 mintues.
Add shallots, pepper, bay, and thyme, 5 minutes longer.
- Add beef stock concentrate and vinegar. Cook until absorbed, about 2 minutes.
- Add wine and cook around 30 minutes – 1 hour until reduced to a saucy consistency.
Strain out everything (reserve for a delicious meal later!) and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- to bake: Preheat oven to 400°F.
Place pastries on baking sheet and brush the pastries with more egg yolk.
Bake 15-20 minutes until golden (with an internal temperature of 125°F).
If the meat is getting close to cooked but the pastry is not golden, raise the temperature to 450°F for about five minutes.
- Rest for 15 minutes before serving.
- Reheat sauce and serve on the side.