So I guess we have a thing for fancy meats here. (If you remember this post, you’ll remember that it wasn’t long ago that I made another rolled and stuffed meat meal). But I wanted to include this recipe to prove that such dishes are not really all that difficult nor time-consuming. In fact, the hardest part of this “Ground Beef Wellington” was slicing the loaf into neat pieces–I only managed to slice one that was almost photo-worthy (and which you can view at the end of this post)!
According to Alton Brown, Beef Wellington is so named for the 1st Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, who led English forces to victory against Napoleon Bonaparte in the late 1700s. According to tradition, a dish was named in honor of the victor. I guess Mr. Wellesley won. (You can read about more beef Wellington nomenclature here).
While this dish is traditionally made with a cut of meat for roasting, such as a steak fillet, the version I used called for ground beef. The result was essentially a delicious meatloaf wrapped in buttery puff pastry. Isn’t puff pastry magical in the way that it instantly elevates things like the simple, peasant dish of meatloaf into richly flavored haute-cuisine? (See also Exhibit A).
Ground Beef Wellington (from Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution)
1. If using frozen puff pastry, take it out now to thaw. You’ll likely need one large sheet or 2 smaller ones merged together; it depends on the brand you buy. (I like the all-butter puff pastries in the frozen section of the store. It costs a little more than doughs made with shortening, but I’m a fan of the flavor and the fact that it doesn’t contain hydrogenated oils).
2. Peel and chop your veggies into a very small dice:
– 1 carrot
– 1 stalk of celery
– 1 medium onion
– 1 potato (I only had smidgey ones, so I used 3)
– 2 portobello mushroom caps
Sautee all veggies in a bit of olive oil in a large pan on medium heat. Finely chop 4 sprigs fresh rosemary and 2 cloves of garlic and add to the mixture, along with some salt and pepper.
3. After about 8 minutes, when the veg has begun to color slightly, add a large handful of frozen peas and mix about for another minute or so. Then let them all cool down. (I put mine in a clean bowl and then floated that bowl in a larger bowl of ice water).
4. At this point you’ll want to preheat your oven to 350F. Once everything in the veg bowl has cooled down, add:
– about 1 pound ground beef
– half of a beaten egg (save the rest for later in the recipe)
– salt and pepper.
Scrunch together with your hands.
5. Roll the puff pastry out into a large rectangle. Dust with flour if it’s sticking. Brush the edges with the rest of the beaten egg. Then gather the meat mixture and lump into a log shape along one long edge of the pastry.
6. Next, Jamie says to “Roll the ground beef up in the pastry until it’s covered completely.” But this didn’t work for me. The beef mixture wasn’t really its own mass; it was too squishy. So I ended up just folding the puff pastry up around the whole log. (And unfortunately my hands were too messy at this point to take a photo of the whole thing rolled up–sorry!) Scrunch together the ends of the pastry and add more egg wash as needed to help everything stick together.
7. Transfer the whole shebang to a baking sheet and brush the top of the pastry with egg wash to give it a beautiful golden brown color when baking. Bake for about 1 hour.
And that’s it! It’s really only 4 steps: cut veggies, sautee veggies, mix meat and veggies, wrap meat and veggies up like a present. The result, after slicing, is a little something like this:
While we loved this recipe, I honestly think that if you’ve already got a favorite meatloaf (or veggie loaf or turkey loaf, etc.) recipe, consider making it appear extra elegant by wrapping it up in a sheet of puff pastry before you bake it. I’m pretty confident that you’ll love the extra flavor, and I’m completely confident that it will look prettier upon slicing. (That is, if you can slice it without things falling apart on you. Alternatively, make some mini-meatloafs and wrap each in its own section of puff pastry–“pigs in a blanket,” anyone?–and let the loved ones for whom you are cooking dissect them on their own).
And while you’re at it, here’s another idea for using up smaller sections of puff pastry and leftover soup: Add your soup to a small, oven proof tureen, large ramekin, or even a mug. Brush the edges of the dish with egg wash and stick the puff pastry sheet on top, pressing it against the edges of the dish. Place the dish on a baking sheet and bake in the oven according to package directions for the pastry. Once it’s puffed and golden brown, your soup will definitely be warm and you’ll have a lovely sweet and softly crunchy addition to your soup.
What do you think? I’m curious to know if anyone would apply the puff pastry concept to their own meatloafs. Any other creative uses you’ve used puff pastry for? Or, how about this: if you won a battle, what food dish would you like to have renamed in your honor, and what would you call it? Leave a comment to share your thoughts!