Beef Wellington with homemade rough puff pastry

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***RECIPE, SERVES SIX***

For the pastry

1 lb (454g) cold butter
1 lb (454g) flour + more for dusting
1 tablespoon (15g) kosher salt (if using unsalted butter)
1-2 teaspoons sugar
egg wash (an egg beaten with a little water)

For the filling

6 oz (170g) baby spinach
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 bunch fresh sage
1 cup (100g) panko bread crumbs
juice of half a lime
salt
pepper
ground ginger (very optional)

For the roast and sauce

1 2-3 lb (907g – 1.36kg) center-cut beef tenderloin roast, trimmed of silver skin
1 onion or a few shallots
1 teaspoon tomato paste
half a bottle of red wine
mustard
butter (I used a whole stick, 113g)
fresh thyme
salt
pepper
oil

Maybe also get some green veg for the side — I did steamed broccolini

Start with the pastry, which you can make days in advance. Cut the cold butter into large cubes and toss them with the flour, salt and sugar in a big bowl. Mix in just enough cold water to barely bring everything together into a shaggy dough. Cover and refrigerate at least half hour to let the flour hydrate and keep the butter firm.

Flour the dough and you counter and roll it out into a rectangle about a centimeter thick — go slowly to keep the pastry from cracking, and turn it frequently to keep it from sticking to the counter. Fold the two outer flaps in on themselves, like a letter.

Repeat the rolling and folding for a total of six times. It’ll get easier at first, and then harder again as the gluten tenses up. Wrap and refrigerate for at least a half hour (again, to firm the butter).

Trim the roast, saving any inedible trimmings for the sauce. Season heavily with salt and pepper and coat in a thin film of oil. Sear all sides in a very hot pan until you have some brown color, but get it out asap so that you cook the interior as little as possible. Let cool.

Put any beef trimmings you have into the hot pan to brown, followed by the onion or shallots, roughly chopped. When everything is brown, stir in the tomato paste and let it brown a minute. Deglaze with the red wine. Put in a roughly equal amount of water or stock, reduce heat and simmer at least an hour, topping off with more water as needed to keep the solids submerged.

Make the filling by blending all the ingredients in a food processor, which you’ll probably have to do in a couple batches. It should have a moldable texture at the end — if not, mix in more panko.

Coat the cooled roast in mustard, and pack on the green filling all around in as thin a layer as possible (see my plastic wrap method for doing this in the video). Don’t worry about the ends — you’re going to trim them off. Cover and chill while you roll out the pastry a final time.

Flour you counter and roll out the pastry about half a centimeter thick. Place the roast on it and roll it up, trimming off any excess pastry. Use egg wash to glue the seam and position the seam on the bottom. Crimp the ends. Wrap tightly in plastic and you can hold that in the fridge for a day if you want. Save any excess pastry for something else, or to cut into decorations for this.

Strain the solids out of the sauce. If there’s a lot of rendered fat, remove most of it with a gravy separator, or put it in the fridge to let the fat solidify on top so you can easily remove it. Return the sauce to the pan to reduce a little. Drop in some whole fresh thyme sprigs to infuse the sauce — lift them out after a few minutes and discard. Reduce the heat so there’s no more bubbling and then slowly melt in a lot of cold butter — it’ll take about as much as you want. Season to taste. You can reheat this sauce before serving, but do it very gently — if you boil it you’ll break the emulsion.

When you’re ready to finish the roast, heat your oven to 425ºF/220ºC. Spread some flour on a baking sheet and plop the Wellington on top. Brush the whole Wellington with egg wash. At this point you could lay on some strips of your leftover pastry to make a decorative lattice, or you could make shallow cuts to create a design, or you could scatter chunky salt over top, or all of the above. Plunge a probe thermometer from the side into the center of the meat.

Throw it in the oven, and be ready to pull it well before it hits your desired internal temperature — there will be more than the usual amount of carryover cooking. For medium rare, I pulled my roast after about 45 minutes at 110ºF/43ºC and it went up to 135ºF/57ºC as it rested. The roast can hold for a long time before slicing — it’ll stay pretty hot. When you’re ready to serve, slice with a serrated knife, and slice thick — the pastry will shatter if you slice too thin.

Flood each plate with sauce, lay on a slice with some vegetables on the side and eat. Maybe never do this again because it’s way more work than it’s worth.

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