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Old 12-13-2004, 11:43 AM   #1
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Beef Wellington help?

I made this last night for 6 guests and i had a huge mess. i made this once before for 2 and had no problems. here are the two major issues i had.
1. I put the 6 wellingtons on a large pastry sheet. Within 10 minutes the bottoms were black, juice was running everywhere and the pan was sizzling. Thinking it was the pan, I immediately took them off, flipped them over and put them in a glass 13x9. well 10 miniutes later, there was so much juice in the pan that the bottoms were compltely soggy. I was so upset. I want to make these again, but not if I am going to have this problem. Does anyone know what went wrong this time??

Thanks
Shawna

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Old 12-13-2004, 03:16 PM   #2
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Hard to tell with hardly any details of what you did in the first place.
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Old 12-14-2004, 05:46 AM   #3
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Shawna, first of all, sorry this happened when you had company coming. Very upsetting. (Omelets, anyone?)

I don't know of my own knowledge what went wrong, I've never made Wellington, but here are some things I found:

The Gourmet magazine recipe includes this instruction: Before you wrap it in the pastry: "In a roasting pan, roast the beef in the middle of a preheated 400f oven for 25-30 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 120f. Let the fillet cool completely and discard the larding fat and strings." Then after you have enrobed the meat with the pastry, it advises you chill it for at least an hour and up to two hours. Then you "Bake the fillet in the middle of a preheated 400f oven for 30
minutes. Reduce heat to 350f and bake an additional 5-10 minutes more or until a meat thermometer registers 130f for medium rare meat and the
pastry is cooked through." Obviously times would vary with individual Wellingtons.

Another recipe advises you chill the meat until cold, after you have done the initial roasting. So maybe you chill the meat thoroughly after first roasting, and then chill it again after it's encased in the pastry.

Did you do these things?


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Old 12-15-2004, 06:09 AM   #4
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I make wellington using a Two Fat Ladies Recipe. Jennifer Patterson suggests making a short crust pastry "boat" using an upside down loaf tin as a mould, then putting your seared beef in that, and topping it with a sheet of puff pastry. No soggy bottoms, but a lot of mucking about.

Two more tips, sear your beef a few hours before you're going to cook it, to let it cool and let the juices settle.


Preheat your oven devilleshly hot, and your pastry sheet, then put your wrapped wellingtons on it. Slow heating causes the juices to run and your pastry to be soggy.

Best of luck, I am making this for Christmas this year.
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Old 12-18-2004, 09:06 AM   #5
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I recommend searing the meat in a pan on top of the stove, then letting the meat cool a bit before putting into the pastry. The searing might help to seal in a bit of the juices.

I personally gave up on beef wellington for guests, because I love rare meat! Mostly, they don't. But didn't give up on the wellington part. Those little pork tenderloins are perfect for wellington. They cook quickly enough that it isn't some kind of trick to get the meat and the pastry just right. I still sear the meat before wrapping in the pastry. Since I have too many freinds who hate liver (poor me, I love it), I make a mish-mash (there's a word for it that isn't coming to mind right now) of finely diced mushrooms, onions, and garlic instead. That I saute and drain before adding. Haven't done it for years. Must be time to try again.
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Old 01-04-2005, 08:02 PM   #6
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I've been on the recovery list so I just saw this post - have made successfull wellington both as a roast and as individual servings...if the other suggestions didn't make sense or help I'd be happy to pm with you.

I love the stuff - my MIL says she wants Beef Welling as her last meal...
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Old 01-04-2005, 10:01 PM   #7
 
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A couple Members have already observed that without a full disclosure of cooking methods, its impossible to come up with a "diagnosis" of what (all?) went wrong...

While I love Wellington, I've only done it a dozen or so times...

To consolidate, here are some considerations:

a) Did you pre-sear the beef, that it could retain the juices, and minimise the oven time?

b) What are you using to cook this on? A "pastry sheet" might be your problem (especially if the oven and not the sheet, if fully pre-heated!) A "cookie sheet" is very thin, and will burn the heck out of your cookie bottoms, why not your pastries? There is a more expensive sort that is sort of "laminated" that would work better, or you could fit one into another symmetrical one, that was doused with water in order to keep the "contact sheet" cooler...

c) How much "lard" or "shortening" is there in your pastry wrap? Did you "grease the sheet" in advance to augment the fats in the pastry?

d) I like (no, more "love") a peppered liver pate with the beef, as pate de fois gras is pretty hard to access at the A+P), but another writer was entirely correct in subbing minced mushroom caps -trip and discard stems!-shallots, worcestshire, soya, maybe some minced garlic, quickly stirred and fried together, as a substitute for pate...mince it up pretty finely...

e) Some philosophical thoughts on using "pastry" pie crust, versus Phyllo pastry or even "off the shelf" Pillsbury product, as opposed some esoteric recipe

f) "Kyles" is entirely correct in her "pre-heating the oven" to "devilishly hot" (wasn't this invented for wood fired ovens, such as used to do pizza's?)...you want to bang that pastry right quickly, as the meat and "stuffing" are near pre-cooked" or "semi-cooked"...

Dunno if I'd want it as my "Last Supper", but I would, any day, take it as my "Next Supper"!

LOL!

Lifter
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Old 01-07-2005, 01:50 AM   #8
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There were a couple of things that I haven't seen yet that may help. I'm not sure if it's entirely standard for a mushroom duxcell to act as a barrier between the beef and the pastry. It's important, therefore, to cook all of the liquid out of the mushrooms before incorporating it between the pastry and the beef, so that they actually can sop up any juices during the cooking process like a sponge.

I've also heard that it's important to poke a couple of holes with the tip of a knife in the top of the pastry so that the steam can be released.

Perhaps these two tips might help.

My biggest problem when I make the dish is how thin to make the pastry. If you roll it out too thin, it tears, and if it's too thick it turns out gummy on the inside.

I love making this dish for other people because it has a magical result.
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Old 01-09-2005, 12:05 PM   #9
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Good tip with the mushrooms BigBlueMouse. A recent recipe I read suggests cooking the mushrooms as you described. Then you lay some parma/proscuitto ham on some clingfilm, spread half your mushies on, put the beef on top (pre seared and allowed to cool) then mushies on top of that, then cover with remaining ham. You use the cling film as a lever to wrap the ham around th beef. The writer didn't bother with the pate, the ham gives enough richness, and helps to stop the mushrooms getting near the pastry.

As well as three large holes in the top of the pastry, I make little foil funnels to stick out of the holes like little silver chimneys, which works really well.

And Lifter, I couldn't use fois gras for ethical reasons, I make my own chicken liver pate instead.
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