I love to cook. I mean, I have to be in the mood, but when I am …watch out! I however, can’t bake for shit. I have problems following exact directions (which explains my kids) and the fact that you have to pay attention to bake time also puts me in the limbo of buying a cake is just as good as making one. I like to try out new recipes and tweak them and have my family give their opinions on whether it should be added to the menu rotation or never made again. I am going to share a spectacular fail that I made. Because I realized, I am no Gordon Ramsay.
Cooking can be cathartic. You gather all your ingredients and everything is nice and tidy for 5 minutes. I have my trash bowl (thanks to Rachel Ray), my spices, my cutting board and my cooking utensils all laid out and ready to be inspired. In real life, I am trying to keep #7 from throwing all my pots at #6 while #3 is telling me how he really doesn’t want to eat whatever it is I’m attempting to make. Kids are just funny like that.
I decided to make Beef Wellington after watching one too many episodes of Hell’s Kitchen. I found the Gordon Ramsay recipe and set out to buy the ingredients. Puff pastry? Check. Beef tenderloin? Holy cow (pun intended) that stuff is expensive. Four different types of mushrooms? Okay, my store has two types of mushrooms, portobello and cap. That will work. A brandy demi glace? Uhm… yeah, I don’t have any brandy and after blowing my budget on the beef tenderloin I guess that the bottle of cheap red wine in the fridge will do.
First, you sear the beef tenderloin. Done. Next, you unwrap your puff pastry dough and spread it gently onto your parchment paper covered sheet. Shit, should have thawed it out. It’s still okay, I can squish the ripped pieces of dough together. It will be fine. Dice up your mushrooms and add chopped onion and brown in a pan with butter. Yep, looks good. Cook down until it resembles a paste. What it resembles is what I clean out of #7’s diaper.
Brush your mushroom paste onto the puff pastry dough. Globbing it on is close enough. Set your beef tenderloin on top of your mushroom paste. Easy enough. Roll up your puff pastry and cover the tenderloin gently, like swaddling a baby. I never had any luck swaddling any of my kids so my dough looks like I put the tenderloin in a straight jacket. Brush on egg white over the top of the pastry. Fudge, forgot to separate the eggs. Not so much brushed on as poured over. This should make it crispier. Pour brandy (cheap wine) over remains of mushroom paste in pan and let simmer. I used all the paste and now I have a burnt layer of something in the pan. Wine makes everything better, this too should work.
Bake at 300 degrees for 2 hours or until a meat thermometer reads … I have to bake this thing for 2 hours? Okay, I will serve appetizers of goldfish and Cheetos while it cooks. After two hours, pull the Beef Wellington out of oven and let rest for 15-20 minutes. The top is very crispy, very browned, two minutes away from burnt. No matter, the demi glace will cover it and soften it up. The demi glace looks vaguely edible. It is chunky and smells like my uncle on Christmas.
I place the Beef Wellington on a platter and call everyone to dinner. They are trying to look excited. My husband asks if it is basically a meat pie. No, no it is not. Well, I guess it kind of is. Cut into the Wellington. Puff pastry disintegrates and the meat is blood red with an outer crust of slightly gray and grainy mushroom paste. I remember that I had not seasoned the beef tenderloin prior to searing it but the mushrooms and wine gravy should have enough flavor. Everyone gamely tries a piece. For a $50 cut of meat, it is flavorless and tough. Order pizza. Never to make Beef Wellington again.
I tried. I failed. Maybe one day I will order it out if I ever find a nice enough restaurant that actually serves it. I am no Gordon Ramsay but for tonight, I came close. Tomorrow, spaghetti. That I know I can do.