Monday, September 8, 2008

Beef Wellington...modified. And some braised leeks, too.

Continuing with our Saturday night in, I decided to try beef wellington for the first time. It would be something fun to do together, and would be the perfect entree to take the place of going out to a nice restaurant to eat.

Jon went to a local farm to get the steaks - the same place where we got our Christmas turkey. Everything we have had from this farm has been amazing (until tonight). He seasoned them with just a bit of Kosher salt and black pepper, and then seared them on the stove. I floured my wooden cutting board and opened the box of puff pastry only to discover that I purchased puff pastry shells instead of sheets. I didn't want dinner to be a flop so I went with what I had and used my imagination.

That's what I'm asking you to do when you look at this picture... use your imagination!

I didn't have a recipe for beef wellington, but have seen it made several times before so I had the general idea. Here is what I did.

  • Make mushroom duxelles: finely chop white mushrooms. Melt butter in a pan and add mushrooms. Saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes. I made the mushrooms about an hour before dinner and then reheated them for plating.
  • Make sauce: add 3/4 c dry red wine and 1/4 c balsamic vinegar to a pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer until liquid has reduced by more than half. I also made this ahead of time and slowly reheated for plating.
  • Sear steaks; move to a 400 degree oven to continue cooking to desired temperature
  • Make pastry shells according to directions on the box. I brushed them with an egg wash since I already had the egg ready to brush on the pastry sheets I thought I bought..

When everything was done, I did my best to salvage this dinner! I put two pastry shells on a plate, topped them with the mushrooms, and then placed a steak on top. I then drizzled the entire thing with some of the red wine reduction.

They looked nice, smelled good, but unfortunately the steaks were the worst steaks we have ever purchased. They had zero flavor. Jon joked that the cows must have been fed only water. How disappointing!! Maybe it's good that I didn't go through all the trouble of wrapping the steaks in the puff pastry. I will try this again, but won't ever buy steaks from that farm again.

Dinner wasn't a total flop - the roasted garlic soup was delicious, and the braised leeks from the Epicurious site were good as well.

Braised Leeks


  • 4 small or medium leeks, tough outer leaves discarded and leeks trimmed to about 7 inches long and cut lengthwise into quarters or eighths I cut off the tough green tops, sliced each leek in half lengthwise
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest


  • In a shallow dish soak leeks in cold water to cover 15 minutes, rubbing occasionally to remove any grit. This wasn't enough washing for me as the leeks hide a lot of dirt in all of their layers! Be sure to thoroughly wash your leeks.
  • In a heavy skillet melt butter over moderate heat.
  • Lift leeks out of the water and with water still clinging to them add to skillet.
  • Cook leeks, stirring occasionally, five minutes and add broth and zest.
  • Braise leeks, covered, 5 minutes, or until very tender, and season with salt and pepper.

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1 comment:

  1. This is a great looking meal! I like the use of the puff pastry shells... so much easier to use. The braised leeks look like a great accompaniment too! Nice job :)