My maternal grandfather is a vegetarian. Even more unusually, the great grandmother on my paternal side was a vegetarian too. She lived in a very early hippy colony and owned an organic food shop.
It is quite odd therefore that I’m such a carnivore.
Forget buying a new dress or expensive perfume – if I’m going to treat myself, I’ll splash out on a nice joint of meat. My parents have twigged onto this, so when I go to visit them, I often have a ‘meat parcel’ to take back to London with me, which contains a collection of the cuts the local butcher had on offer.
If I’ve done something of any note, I might find a particularly nice cut of meat sneaked in there as a form of congratulations. Anyway, I got a new job a couple of weeks ago (editorial assistant at Reader’s Digest!) so when I last went to visit my parents, there was some beef fillet waiting for me. They were clearly very proud (or relieved) at my recent employment!
I decided that I’d get round some of my loveliest girl friends and pad-out the beef fillet by turning it into a beef wellington.
That’s why I found myself on a sunny Sunday afternoon quaffing champagne and beef fillet on the balcony in the East End – happiest girl in all of London Town!
Ingredients (for a Bob Bob Ricard – inspired turtle type beef wellington for 4 people)
Jus-Rol puff pastry
150 g chestnut mushrooms, diced very finely
170g Tesco’s Farmhouse with Mushroom Coarse Pate
500g beef fillet
I started off by sealing the meat. Lots of recipes say that you should roast it for 20 minutes, but I think it is sacrilege to overcook beef fillet, and all it needs is sealing in a pan. Rub a bit of oil onto the fillet, and give it 30 seconds on each side in a searing hot pan.
Let the meat rest, and then in the same pan, fry the mushrooms with a knob of butter and some thyme if you have any to hand.
I then squished up the mushrooms with the pate so that I had a mushroom-rich, meat paste.
Roll out the puff pastry, and spread a layer of the mushroom pate on top of it. Sit the beef on that. Spread some more of the pate over the exposed side of the beef, and then wrap the puff pastry around it – just like you’re wrapping up a present.
Split an egg yolk on top of the pastry just before popping it in the oven, and make sure that the yolk is smeared all over the beef wellington – it makes the pastry nicely bronzed and crisp.
Put the beef in a hot oven at 200°c for 20 minutes (if you like it rare, like I do.)
I served the beef wellington with horseradish, roasted carrots and French beans (drizzled with a touch of walnut oil and orange zest). Enjoy!