Saturday, 25 February 2012

A Pancake By Any Other Name - Beef Wellington for Shrove Tuesday

Beef Wellington
Ladle the batter into the pan
Tiny craters starts to form and the edges moving away from the pan
Slide the cooked pancakes onto kitchen paper 
Making the mushroom duxielle
Seared the fillet on all sides to lock in the flavours and juices
Lay the pancakes on the rolled out puff pastry
Spread the mushroom duxielles
Place the fillet in the middle of the bedding
Brush with beaten eggs 
Lightly scored to create a beautiful criss-cross pattern
Beef Wellington or Filet de bœuf en croûte de champinons

I love pancakes and perhaps that's the reason why I love Shrove Tuesday. They are so easy to make and are extremely versatile, and can be found in both sweets and savoury dishes. The traditional lemon and sugar version; French crêpe suzette; spongy American pancakes, drenched in maple syrup and served with crispy bacon; as a cushion for other delicious topping in blinis and even the Japanese have their take on this with their Dorayaki (どら焼き), a sweet red bean paste enclosed pancake delight.

Due to work commitment, I was deprived of this yummy treat for the better half of last Tuesday. All morning, the sweet, buttery scent of pancakes seemed to be following me everywhere I go. But I have a cunning plan, I will give myself a double whammy of this glorious treat by making a Beef Wellington, followed by a stack of pancakes that will be soaked in the oozy and sticky maple syrup straight after work. Why the beef wellington ? Well, because pancakes will be used in the making of this luxurious dish. In order to keep the succulent and butter soft fillet moist and the puff pastry crisp and flaky. Pancakes are lined on the pastry before rolling over the fillet to lock in the meat juices when cooking so that they don't seeped into the pastry, thus making it soggy and stodgy.

Beef wellington utilise one of the most priciest cut of the beef but on this celebratory occasion, this bit of extravagance is definitely worth the expense. It's Pancake day after all!

(Serves 4)


For the Pancakes (makes around 8):
125g plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
1 free range egg plus one yolk
225ml full-fat milk
unsalted butter for cooking

For the Mushroom duxielles:
25g unsalted butter
2 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
500g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
10g dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in warm water and chopped
1 sprig of fresh thyme, leaves picked
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

500g beef fillet
1 tbsp olive oil
good quality all-butter puff pastry
1 free-rage egg, beaten
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the pancakes, sift the flour in a large mixing bowl with a pinch of salt. Add the eggs and milk and whisk until you have the consistency of a single cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the butter in a frying pan on a medium heat until it start to sizzles. Spread a small ladle of the batter across the bottom of the pan and swirl the pan quickly so that a thin layer batter evenly coat the base. When it starts to set (you should see tiny craters forming and the edges start to come away from the pan), loosen the  edges with a thin spatula or palette knife. Flip the pancake over and cook for another 30 seconds either with the spatula or if you are brave enough, hold the pan firmly and jerk it in a up and towards you digging motion. Stack the pancakes between sheets of greaseproof or kitchen paper while you get on with making the rest. Set the pancakes aside until needed.

For the mushroom duxielles, heat the butter in a pan over low medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cooked for 2 -3 minutes, then add the chopped mushrooms and thyme and cook for another 10-15 minutes, until all moisture have been cooked out and you are let with a dry, crumbly mixture. Take off the heat, season to taste and leave to cool. 

For the beef, heat the oil in a large frying pan and when smoking, seared the beef on all sides until golden brown. Remove and rest for at least 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry to a rectangular shape that are large enough to enclose the fillet. Lay two pancakes onto, overlapping slightly; spread a thin layer of duxielles onto of the pancakes. Put the seared fillet on top of these, season and then roll an wrap the pastry over the beef to form a tight cylindrical log, sealing the sides with the beaten egg. Transfer the pastry wrapped beef onto a baking tray with the sealed side down. Brush all over with the beaten egg and lightly scored the pastry to create a beautiful criss-cross pattern if wish.

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Place the beef in the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, until the  pastry is golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and rest for 5 minutes before serving.

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