Please consider this my out of office. Tomorrow, for the first time since our incredible (and now, depressingly long ago) honeymoon, Him Indoors and I will be jetting off out of the country for a very long-awaited holiday. Two weeks of eating, drinking, reading, snoozing, sightseeing and sunbathing. And, no doubt, scratching insect bites, applying aftersun to pasty British skin and realizing that we forgot something - don't know what but something - which is absolutely crucial.
But at this moment in time, I can't focus on anything bad will may or may not happen in the next fortnight. I've waited for more than eighteen months for this holiday, and I'm going to enjoy every single second. Did I mention that it's 30 degrees and sunny in Tulum right now? Sigh.
So while we're in
Given that it's going to be up here for a few weeks until I get back, gabbling about taquitos and enchiladas and mosquito bites the size of my FACE, it's just as well it's a good one. This Wellington is a tried and trusted favourite, a reliable showstopper for (expensive but worth it) entertaining or an incredible special occasion treat.
The effort: effect ratio is better on this than almost anything else we make - it's easy, relatively quick and can be prepared entirely in advance. The only real challenge is finding a bit of beef fillet big enough for your greed, that doesn't leave your wallet crying. Well, that and fighting it out for the biggest, rarest slices.
So if you're looking for an amazing, foolproof, oh-so-delicious way to spend a few quid, I can definitely recommend this Wellington. If you want turquoise seas, palm trees and that big fiery orb in the sky which seemed to give Britain a miss this summer? Those will be found in Mexico. As will we - book in one hand, cocktail in the other, big stupid smiles on sunkissed faces. It's so close now, I can almost touch it. 12 hours until we fly!
Adapted from a Gordon Ramsay recipe
Serves 6 (or 4 with plenty of leftovers)
- 1kg piece of beef fillet (ours cost around £30 quid from Sainsburys meat counter)
- 1kg flat mushrooms
- 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 3 packs of parma ham
- English or grainy mustard
- 1 pack of ready-made, all butter puff pastry
- an egg
- salt, pepper and olive oil
Start by heating a splash of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Season the beef all over and quickly sear it on every side until browned, then set aside to cool. You're not looking to cook the meat at this stage, just to colour the outside and seal in the juices. Don't bother washing up the pan, you're about to use it again.
Whiz the garlic in the food processor until finely chopped. Peel or wipe the mushrooms, break into large pieces and add to the garlic in the processor. Blitz it until the mushrooms have become a puree.
Put a medium heat under the frying pan and scrape in the garlicky mushroom mixture. Heat, stirring frequently, until the liquid in the mushrooms evaporates and the mixture is quite dry, enough to be squished together and hold its shape. For this quantity of mushrooms, it might take up to ten minutes, so be patient. Then set aside and let it cool down.
Lay out a couple of big pieces of clingfilm to cover a worksurface, then arrange the parma ham on top, overlapping slices so that you get a big rectangle with no gaps. You want it large enough to wrap around the whole beef fillet.
Smush the mushroom mixture on top, spreading evenly. Brush the cooled beef fillet generously with mustard (we went for grainy, Gordon says English) and place on top. Holding onto the edge of the clingfilm nearest you, tightly roll the mushroomy ham over and around the beef, into a tight sausage shape. Twist the ends of the cling film tightly, and put the whole lot in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to set the shape.
Roll out the puff pastry until it's big enough to wrap right around the beef, and preheat the oven to 200C. Plonk the beef right in the middle of the pastry and roll it up, making sure that the 'seam' is underneath the meat. Fold the ends underneath as well, and carefully manoeuvre the wellington onto a baking tray. Brush the whole thing in beaten egg and lightly crisscross the top with a knife, then chill for another 5 minutes (or up to a few hours, if you like - we did).
Egg wash again, then bake for 45 minutes to leave it properly rare, more or less according to taste. Rest for 10 minutes before slicing, then tuck in. We served it with hasselback potatoes, green beans and peas.