You have to walk before you can run.

Someone should have reminded The Hungry One and I of that a few years ago, when we went a little creative-and subjected some buddies to a wacky take on beef wellington.

It was new years eve. It was a multi course tasting meal at ours. There were four couples. Everyone was to bring two courses and a wine to match. As one of our nearest and dearest works as a wine merchant, he brought way more than one. He’s crazily generous like that.  As the night wore on we got a little disheveled.

The Hungry One and I were having a bit of an extended flirtation with kangaroo meat at the time. It was cheap and low fat. Some vegaquarian friends would let it slip past if we served it to them (see, it’s sustainable too).

I was also drawn to the romance of a wellington.

I think you know where this is going.

So we tried to construct individual kangaroo wellingtons for main course. Instead of the mushroom duxelle there was a beetroot puree ( as beetroot and kangaroo are pretty good pals). There was still the soapy tinge of thyme. There was prosciutto (though not for the vegaquarians) and a double swaddle of crepes and pastry.

Pulling them together was like trying to assemble cheap furniture bought off the internet without instructions or an allen key.

There were some swear words uttered as the pastry slipped through our hands and the crepes refused to close. 

They were not a success. Apart from the above there’s a small window for kangaroo fillet between being scarily raw, palatable and having the texture of a Doc Martin shoe. That window is hard to grasp after a few celebratory champagnes and through a binding of pastry, crepes and cured meat.

So the wellingtons sat half eaten on the plates and slipped from our repertoire . But enough time has passed. It’s time to bring it back.

Beef Wellington for two

Foraging:
200 grams of beef fillet per person
A cup and a half of mushrooms
3 eschallots, finely diced.
6 slices of prosciutto
375 grams Puff pastry
A bunch of thyme
Dijon mustard
Egg yolk

To start with there was a frightfully expensive piece of beef fillet. But it was marbled nicely and dry aged. And my friendly butcher made cheerful small talk with me while I made my selection and wished me well in my endeavours. Which was nice of him. For the two of us there was 400 grams.

There was a cup and a half of mushrooms, blitzed in the blender to chunks the size of fish tank pebbles. There were three eschallots that suffered the same fate. These and a tablespoon of butter went into a fry pan to sweat all the liquid out of them. This duxelle has to act as a scarf around the meat- so I wanted it to be fairly paste like. When the mushrooms were cooked I stirred through a tablespoon of Dijon mustard for a bit of kick.


Then there were six slices of prosciutto, which had already been nicely laid out in an overlapping fashion.

The meat got seasoned with salt and pepper and a dusting of thyme buds went over the meat. The mushroom mixture was patted over all sides of the meat and then rolled up, like a kid crossing the floor in a sleeping bag.

Then it was wrapped up in puff pastry which has been flattened out slightly and had the corners cut out, so it looks like a big red cross logo. Taking out the corners means there’s  not too much pastry overlap.

It then got a novelty ring of pastry affixed to the top and brushed with an egg yolk so it gets a nice tan in the oven. It sat on baking paper and went into a 200 degree oven for 20 minutes, until the pastry was brown and puffed.

We let it rest for 10 minutes when we took it out of the oven. We ate it with a puree of baby spinach, peas and garlic, some steamed asparagus and a red wine sauce, made by sautéing some onion, garlic and mushrooms, then adding a cup and two cups of red wine and letting it reduce slowly by half. The vegetables were taken out and the sauce reduced on a very low murmur again. Then there was a knob of butter at the end  and some salt and pepper.

This time when we cut it open there was a gentle sigh of satisfaction. Rosy pink and pretty as a picture.

And the taste? Well, let’s just say that this time there was nothing left on the plates at the end of the meal.

The Hungry One made sure of that.