Everyday Gourmet1/15/09

Hail to the beef

Jan. 15, 2009

By Kim Dannies

President Obama’s historic inauguration will take place Jan. 20, 2009. To celebrate, I’m preparing the best dish I ate last year (thanks to my neighbor, Shona Lothrop). Individual Beef Wellingtons with Mushrooms, Spinach and Blue Cheese is adapted from a recipe in Fine Cooking (www.taunton.com). Cheers!

Sunday: Prep

Slice 8 ounces of Crimini mushrooms and sauté for 15 minutes in 1 tablespoon of hot olive oil. Deglaze with 1/4 cup dry sherry, cooking until all liquid evaporates. Stir in 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon, each, fresh thyme leaves and chopped fresh rosemary.

Repeat process with 2 thinly sliced medium onions, deglazing and cooking until caramelized and dry. Combine the batch and season with coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper. Chill.

Microwave 12 ounces of fresh baby spinach; squeeze in a paper towel to dry. Wrap in fresh paper towel and place in a small bowl. Slice four 1-ounce slabs of Maytag blue cheese. Chill ingredients.

Sear 4 portions of seasoned beef tenderloin, 5 to 6 ounces each, in hot olive oil for 2 minutes on each side. Chill.

Monday: Assemble Wellingtons

o    Thaw 2 sheets (1 pound) frozen puff pastry, Pepperidge Farm brand, for 20 minutes. Be sure the pastry is pliable enough to unfold without breaking. Place each sheet onto individual sheets of parchment paper and roll out to two 14-inch-by-17-inch rectangles. Slice each rectangle on the diagonal, creating a total of 4 triangles.

o    Working quickly, stack spinach, cheese, beef and the mushroom mixture into center of each pastry triangle. (Use a slotted spoon for the mushroom mixture to eliminate excess liquid.)

o    Seal the panels together by pulling up sides and pinching each together where the panels meet. Place bundle, sealed side down, on a sheet lined with parchment that fits into your freezer. Don’t worry if the package doesn’t look gorgeous, it’s more important that it’s well sealed so the juices don’t leak out. Using a pastry brush, seal the packets with an egg wash mix of 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of water. Freeze bundles.

Tuesday: Roast Wellingtons

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Make another egg wash. Remove the Wellingtons from the freezer (do not thaw) and brush them with a fresh coat of egg wash. Put them on a lightly greased rimmed heavy baking sheet and roast 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and cook until the internal temperature is 110 degrees (be sure the tip of the thermometer is inserted in the center of the package), another 35 minutes. Serves 4.

Kim Dannies is a graduate of La Varenne Cooking School in France. She lives in Williston with her husband, Jeff; they have three college-aged daughters. For archived Everyday Gourmet columns go to kimdannies.com.