Beef Wellington is an absolutely beautiful dish to serve at a special dinner. It does require a little time but the results are well worth the effort. This dish always reminds me of a time long ago when people hosted formal grand dinner parties in their home. I feel that this dish always makes the dinner feel more elegant. There are many theories regarding the origin of Beef Wellington. One theory is that it is named after the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) who won the battle of Waterloo. According to foods of England there is no mention of Beef Wellington in any English cookbook until about 1970. It is therefore presumed to have French origin and then renamed. No matter the origin, we do know that it dates back to a long time ago when classic technique cooking was popular.
Beef Wellington is definitely a decadent dish. The original recipe calls for Duxelles, Foie Gras and Puff Pastry. In the recipe I was handed down by my mother the Foie Gras has been removed and sliced prosciutto has been added to help seal in the juices and prevent the puff pastry from getting soggy. The use of prosciutto is seen in many modern Beef Wellington recipes. The Duxelles is a combination of mushrooms, I like to use button, portobello and shiitake, that have been chopped and cooked down in butter with shallots and thyme. You can also add a little truffle or Chanterelle to the mix. I also add in a little fresh bread crumbs because I like the texture that it gives to the duxelles. The result is a mushroom paste that is spread over the prosciutto and then wrapped around the tenderloin.
Duxelles with fresh thyme and breadcrumbs. Choose any assorted mushrooms you like and cook down with butter and shallots before adding the thyme and breadcrumbs
You can use a 2 1/2 pound center-cut tenderloin ( will serve 6) that has been tied to retain the shape or you can use 6-8 oz portions if you would like to make individual Beef Wellington. You must sear the meat to seal in the juices before wrapping it in the duxelles, prosciutto and puff pastry. After you sear the meat, remove the string before wrapping. There’s nothing worse then getting a piece of string caught in your mouth. I have deviated from my mother’s recipe slightly after reading that Chef Gordon Ramsey rubs Dijon mustard on the meat before wrapping it. So clever, I just love that guy! After trying this I decided I really liked the flavor and spice that the Dijon mustard gave the dish. Always make sure you wrap the tenderloin securely with the puff pastry and seal the ends well. Do not leave too much dough on the end, you don’t want clumpy ends of dough. After you have wrapped the Filet in puff pastry use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes to create a beautiful design on top. This can be as easy as rolling a thin piece of pastry and creating a vine with leaves or cutting out birds like I did here for Christmas. Use your imagination, it’s your creation. Brush with egg wash before placing in oven to create a beautiful sheen on the pastry when finished. Serve the Wellington with Brandy Shallot Sauce.
How Do You Know How Long To Cook The Meat?
It will take about 35-40 minutes for a 2 1/2 pound tenderloin to reach medium rare (130-135 degrees). I recommend cooking the Wellington at 400 for 40 minutes. You can stick a meat thermometer in the center to check temperature. The ends of the meat will be more well done then the center pieces so you will have a variety of meat temperatures for your guests. Let the Beef Wellington rest for 10 minutes before slicing it. Since it will be so beautiful to look at you should place it on a platter and display it at the table while your guests are sitting down.
Can I Make The Beef Wellington Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can prepare the Beef Wellington according to the recipe up to the step before you wrap it in puff pastry. This can be done up to 12 hours before you are going to cook the Wellington. Wrap the tenderloin in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
I think that meatloaf is a very underrated dish. People think “boring”, I think delicious. The funny thing is that we served meatloaf on the menu at Grazie and it was extremely popular. Ours was an Italian version of the typical American dish. We topped the meatloaf with a hearty tomato and mushroom sauce and guests loved it. I think that it may be because it reminds people of home. Meatloaf is a comfort food and since Grazie was a neighborhood restaurant people weren’t looking for fancy, they wanted delicious home cooking. There are many different adaptations of meatloaf. Recipes vary the meat used and some don’t use meat at all. I like to use a combination of veal, pork and beef for my meatloaf. This is the classic blend of meat to use in meatloaf recipes. It is also essential to use fresh breadcrumbs, not packaged. I am the first person to try and make a recipe easy but it really makes a difference to make your own fresh breadcrumbs out of white or french bread. I like to buy a loaf of bread, leave it out for a day or two and then make a big batch of crumbs and freeze them in a ziplock bag. You can defrost them as needed.
It is also important to mix all the ingredients well before making a loaf shape to bake in the oven. The liquids need to mix with the breadcrumbs and meat in order to result in a meatloaf that has the right texture and consistency. So take your time mixing with a fork. When forming the loaf shape do not handle the meat too long. You want to gently form the shape and then leave it alone. If you handle meat for meatloaf or meatballs too long it becomes too dense and it will end up being tough. Always let your meatloaf rest for 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven to prevent it from falling apart when you slice.
Roasting broccoli is so easy, tastes delicious and is very healthy. I think it’s silly when I read a recipe that over-complicates roasted broccoli. All you need to do is cut the florets off of the head of broccoli give them a quick rinse and toss with olive oil and some salt and pepper. Pop it in the oven for 15 minutes and you’re done. I like when the the broccoli gets a little char on it. The broccoli remains crisp but tender.
In this recipe I decided to give the broccoli a little kick. I wanted a little more heat in the dish and some more color so I decided to add Jalapeño, Sweet Twister Peppers and Garlic. I sautéed the peppers and garlic in Extra Virgin Olive Oil before tossing with the broccoli. This step allowed the peppers and garlic to flavor the Olive Oil before tossing it with the broccoli. I was having a couple of friends over for dinner and was serving a buffet dinner. I prepped the whole dish ahead of time so all I had to do was pop it in the oven 15 minutes before I wanted to serve dinner. I love recipes that don’t require you to spend a lot of time in the kitchen when your guests have arrived. You should be enjoying your company, not sweating it out in the kitchen.
Crispy Chicken Tenders with just the right amount of spice and a lot of serving options.
Adults and children alike love chicken tenders. Little strips of deep fried crunchy breading with juicy chicken inside. The trick to making extra crispy chicken tenders that won’t be dry inside is to marinate the chicken in buttermilk for an hour or two before coating in flour. The buttermilk helps to tenderize the chicken so it won’t dry out during the frying process. I like to use chicken tenders for this recipe. Typically you can find packages of chicken tenders in the supermarket. Chicken tenders are a cut of chicken that is located near the breast bone. You can also buy chicken breast and cut it into strips but if chicken tenders are available you should use them. Th extra crispy comes from dredging the marinated chicken in flour, then egg, then flour again. This two step coating process creates a thick crust on the strips that crisps up beautifully.
The seasoning is also very important in this recipe. We want a little kick to our crispy chicken tenders so I add some hot sauce to the buttermilk before marinating the chicken. The flour also needs to be seasoned which will result in a flavorful chicken tender. Bland is boring. There are many ways to serve these crispy chicken tenders. You can serve with a tangy green salad or with mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. They also make a great chicken sandwich, since they are strips try serving them in a hot dog bun topped with hot honey or chopped tomatoes, avocado and shredded lettuce with a special sauce of ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, relish, paprika, hot sauce and garlic powder. I like a potato roll because it is squishy and holds up well with the fried chicken strips. You can also just serve them plain with some honey mustard on the side. Whatever you choose I am sure you will love them.
Maitake mushrooms are also known as Hen of the Wood mushrooms. I absolutely love the large floral shape of these mushrooms. It has a very earthy flavor. The word ‘Maitake’ means dancing in Japanese. It is said that the mushroom got this name because people started dancing around it when it was first discovered. This mushroom is typically found in the Fall months and it not only tastes great but is also very healthy for you. The Maitake or Hen of the Wood mushroom is considered a medicinal mushroom because it is full of antioxidants, vitamin B and C, potassium and fiber. The mushroom is being tested to see its effectiveness in regulating cholesterol. A 2013 study found that the Maitake mushroom reduced cholesterol levels in mice which lead researchers to believe that there are benefits to eating these mushrooms. The mushroom is best used the same day you buy it but if you need to store it you should put it in a paper bag in the refrigerator. They are very delicate and crisp up on the edges when roasted or fried. I have tried this recipe by frying the mushroom in oil and of course it is delicious but I really wanted to keep this recipe a little healthier so I think roasting the mushroom is equally as good. Ok, maybe not equally, but definitely a close second. If you want to try frying the Maitake you will need to put it on a skewer so you can gently place it in the vegetable oil. Fry the mushroom until crispy and then sprinkle with salt and pepper after you remove it from the oil and place it on a paper towel to drain. Remove the skewer and serve with the garlic aioli. The garlic aioli adds a lot of flavor to this dish and works well with the earthy flavor of the mushroom. It’s simple to prepare and can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator. Making it ahead of time will give the flavors time to blend. Always use fresh lemon juice and garlic when making the aioli. I like to put the aioli on the side so people can use as much as they want.
A fresh squeeze of lemon is essential to brighten the aioli and give it a little zing. Regular lemon is fine but use Meyer if you can find it.
This Maitake mushroom recipe is super easy to prepare and pairs well with many main dishes. Serve it with seafood, chicken or meat. It makes a great side dish to serve family style or you can serve it as an appetizer before dinner.
This is a very easy, classic tomato sauce recipe that I refer to in many recipes. You can double or triple the recipe and freeze what you don’t use for up to a month. I don’t like it to be frozen for longer than that so write the date you made it on a piece of tape and put that on the container before you put it in the freezer. Consider this tomato sauce a base for many dishes. This is an easy tomato sauce to make. You can add more heat to it by increasing the amount of red pepper flakes. I do this when I am making an arrabbiata sauce or Shrimp Fra Diavalo.