inspired by Holborn Dining Room
Chef Calum Franklin has become something of an Instagram sensation recently. Not only does he make the most exquisite looking pies, he’s now released a cookbook so it seems that every home cook out there is having a go and some delicious, pastry encased, recipes.
I have to confess I haven’t bought the cook book.
Not yet anyway. With birthday and Christmas out of the way I no longer risk buying it and then also being given it as a gift (and seeing as I got 4 new cookbooks as presents in the past two weeks, I think I was wise to wait!).
But now nothing is stopping me and I’ll be getting my hands on a copy to help me get through lockdown 3.0.
I feel like each lockdown has been defined by a different food.
Lockdown 1, sourdough (I did not jump on the banana bread band wagon).
Lockdown 2, freshly made pasta made a weekly (occasionally daily) appearance.
So perhaps Lockdown 3 could be pastry? Might as well keep the carb theme running.
I’ve already made a rough puff a few times, so the pastry part of this didn’t intimidate me. Well, the making of the pastry didn’t. The shaping of the pastry is another thing.
Just look at some of Calum Franklin and his Pie Room teams’ amazing efforts.
Yep if I’m going to claim that this world famous pie room is the inspiration for this dish, then I’m going to have to put in a little more effort.
I use the same rough puff pastry recipe as before, but I turn, roll and fold the pastry a couple more times. I also then give it plenty of time to chill in the fridge.
So how to build a wellington?
First get yourself an amazing piece of beef fillet. It won’t be cheap, but it is so worth it for a special occasion. Ours came from our favourite local butcher, John Charles Butchers in Blackheath.
So I have some amazing meat. I have some passable pastry. What else do I need?
A bit of Instagram detective work tells me that Calum used to make his wellingtons with a crepe (it absorbs excess moisture to stop the pastry going soggy) but recently he’s been using bresaola instead.
I actually do have some bresaola, from Cobble Lane Cured, but unfortunately it’s in lots of quite small pieces. I doubt it will be easy to wrap around the beef.
I float the idea of making a pancake to Aidan. He scowls.
We always make beef wellington (and when I say always I think I’ve only ever made it once or twice before…) with parma ham.
And as much as this is my cooking blog, this is very much his dinner too. Amazing how his interest in my cooking antics is heightened when there’s a decent piece of meat involved.
So in the end Aidan wins and the parma ham gets spread out over some cling film, ready for the mushroom duxelles.
Which Aidan also has opinions on. Chef Calum included spinach in his wellington, as well as the finely chopped mushrooms. Aidan is having none of that. Greenery ruining his lovely piece of beef? No chance.
This wellington is become less like the Pie Room’s by the second.
But at least I can try to make it look like one of Chef Calum’s wellingtons. Other than the fact that mine is a small one to feed two people. His are normally much, much bigger.
For this I’ve actually bought myself a new piece of kit. I am now the proud owner of a pastry lattice cutter.
I couldn’t quite bring myself to try and individually cut out hexagons (the pie room do though!) but I do take his tip of running a knife along all the cuts from the lattice cutter, after rolling it across the pastry. This way once you pull the pastry apart you get clean, defined edges to the pattern.
Which I have to say I’m rather chuffed with once I get the lattice over the pastry encased beef. It almost looks professional! Almost….
I even take the time (or thyme, if you want a terrible pun) to place little herb leaves in each pastry diamond before a final egg wash and into the oven.
Aidan thinks 25 minutes will be plenty. I think 30 minutes. So we settle on 27.5 minutes. Then Aidan takes it out a bit early anyway.
Which, after over 10 minutes of resting, turns out to be just right if you like rare beef, which we do. But I would give it the full 30 minutes if you wanted it more medium rare.
We sit down with a bottle of red wine and tuck in. Honestly it’s the best thing I’ve cooked in ages.
Potentially the best thing we’ve cooked ever.
But that is what happens when you take some amazing produce, treat it with care, and spend some time making something properly.
It may not be the same as Holborn Dining Rooms. I have no doubt that Calum Franklin’s is better.
But for me, right not, this is perfect. All I need to start the new year.
2021 is looking a little bit brighter already.
- 400 g puff pastry
- 500 g beef fillet
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 6 slices parma ham (or bresaola)
- 340 g mixed mushrooms (I used a mix of chesnut and shitake)
- 2 cloves garlic
- 4 shallots
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 10 g butter
- 1 egg beaten
- 1 splash milk
- olive oil
- Start by making the mushroom duxelles. Finely chop the shallots and add to a wide frying pan on a medium heat with the butter. Cook gently until they are soft but don't brown.
- Finely chop all the mushrooms and add them to the shallots. Cook gently until they have released all their moisture and it has evaporated. Add the crushed garlic and leaves from one sprig of thyme and cook for a few more minutes.
- Spead the mushroom mix out on a baling tray to cool. If they still seem too wet then pat with kitchen paper.
- Wipe out the pan and then add a little olive oil. Place on a high heat. Season the fillet of beef and add it to the pan to quickly brown all sides of the meat. This should only take a minute or two. Trasfer to a plate to cool and then brush the fillet all over with dijon mustard.
- Lay a piece of cling film on a flat surface. Place the parma ham slices on the cling film, slightly overlapping so you create a rectangle of the meat large enough to cover the whole fillet. Spread the mushroom mix evenly across the parma ham and then sit the beef fillet in the centre.
- Using the cling film to help, lift up one side of the parma ham and wrap it around the beef. Repeat with the other side until the meat is completely wrapped. Try not to get the cling film trapped inside layers of the ham and mushroom. This will make it easier to remove later.
- Twist the ends of the cling film to make sure the beef is tightly wrapped and then place the whole parcel in the fridge to chill for half an hour.
- Roll out 300g of your pastry until it is a rectangle that is large enough to cover all of the beef and about the thickness of a pound coin. Once the beef has chilled remove it from the cling film and place it at one end of the pastre, about 2cm from the edge.
- Lift the other end of the pastry up and over the beef to meet the other edge and press to seal. Fold down each end and crimp with a fork to make sure it is sealed all the way around.
- Beat the egg and add a splash of milk. Brush some all over the pastry.
- Now roll out the remaining pastry to a similar thickness and run a lattice cutter down it. If you want perfect edges run a shrp knife aloing each cut from the lattice cutter before you pull the pastry apart gentry to reveal the pattern. Lay it gently all over the wellington and cut away any excess once you have made sure it is covering all the sides.
- Add another layer of egg wash all over and place thyme leaves in the pastry diamond pattern.
- Chill the wellington in the fridge to firm up whilst you preheat a fan oven to 200°C.
- Bake for 30 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. Rest for 10-15 minutes before carving.