Sunday, October 31, 2010

Little Bee: Create a "buzz" with this Beef Wellington

 A slice of my Beef Wellington Served with Green Peppercorn Sauce and Potatoes

I borrowed this book from Melissa and it was awesome

What a novel....Little Bee by Chris Cleave will blow you away.  This was probably one of the most well written, easy to read, and surprisingly good books I have read in a long time. The plot involves several very unlikely characters:  a charmingly courageous refugee from Nigeria, "Little Bee"; a compassionate British magazine editor, and her hilarious and precocious four year old British son (who prefers to be addressed as Batman).  It's basically a story of the journey of a refugee from Nigeria who makes a new life in England. I read this on the plane and the stranger in the seat next to me probably thought I was nuts because I literally laughed out loud in parts.  The author picks the most colorful, vivid and perfect words to describe their thoughts.  A fantastic read - I would recommend for any book club.

You can find more about the book at:

So why a Beef Wellington you may wonder?  The book is based in England, and Beef Wellington is a very traditional British dish.  I went in search of the perfect recipe and found Tyler Florence's recipe for the Ultimate Beef Wellington.  You can find the recipe at:

Here is the Beef Wellington before I cut it. It looked like a loaf of bread!

My Beef Wellington garnished with Thyme and Chives
 This recipe was OUTSTANDING.  I will most definitely make it again. I will warn you that it does take some work, and the ingredients are a little pricey, but make this for a special occasion, and I assure you, your guests will be so impressed.  I made this for my family, and they thought I was a gourmet chef.

Check out the full recipe on the website, but below is the basic method I used:

1) You will need to buy a beef tenderloin. This is basically the fillet Mignon before they slice it. The recipe calls for a 3 pound beef tenderloin, but I was serving a smaller crowd, so I bought one that was a little over 2 pounds.  I went to Publix, and I didn't see any in the meat case, but I asked the butcher to cut me a beef tenderloin, and after doing a little shopping for my other ingredients, I came back and it was all ready for me. 
2) You will need to buy about 10 slices of thinly sliced prosciutto.  Make sure to get the authentic kind, which you can also find at the Publix deli counter.
3) You will need to make a Duxelle.  In order to do this, you will finely chop (in your food processor) mushrooms, shallots, garlic and thyme, which you then saute in olive oil for about 30 minutes or until it is a dry consistency.
4) Then, you will sear the meat on all sides.  Just pour some olive oil on the meat, and in the pan, and using tongs let it sear on each side including the ends.  Make sure to tie it up with kitchen twine before doing this to make for easier handling. Then make sure to cut off the twine :)
5) You will put a big piece of plastic wrap down on the counter and then "shingle" the prosciutto in a row top to bottom, overlapping them slightly.
6) You take the Duxelle you made and spread it over the prosciutto.  It spreads almost like a pate and looks like it too.
7) You put some Dijon mustard on the beef, and then lay it on the row of Duxelle lined Prosciutto
8) Then you use the plastic wrap to roll the tenderloin up very tightly, and seal it, and then put in the fridge for about 30 minutes. It will look like a log.
9) Roll out the puff pastry and then wrap it around the log (take the plastic wrap off first!) Cut slits in the top to let steam escape.
10) Bake at 425 degrees F for about 40 minutes and then let is sit (tented with foil) on top of the stove.

Then...the must make it to go along with your dish. It takes some time, but basically it is a reduction of beef broth, brandy (yes, a whole cup) and cream.  Be very patient and let it reduce in half two times as instructed.  You even get to flambe the brandy with a match, and you will feel very impressed with yourself. The one thing I would leave out next time are the green peppercorns.  The recipe calls for a half cup, which is way too many for this sauce in my opinion. I would probably leave them out all together and put in some black pepper, or maybe just add a few in for looks.

It was AWESOME. I served with roasted potatoes.  Make this when you have some time to dedicate to it, but I promise it is worth it, and if I can do it, anyone can.



  1. Hi Jessica, I love your picks: The book, the menu, and most importantly, your vacation spot. I've snorkeled around Water-lemon key many times in our 4 trips to St. John. Thanks for the inspiration; I'm going to try doing the Beef this weekend. I'll try the sauce with my favorite mix of red, black, and green peppercorns.

    Take care,

  2. Brad -

    Thanks for the note! I'm glad you like the blog! St. John is beautiful!

    Good luck w/ the beef - it is AWESOME! Be careful when you light the brandy with the match for the sauce- it's got a full cup in it, so it will flame for a while!