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Monday, 13 February 2012

Our Valentine's Supper

When we were asked to visit Greenbank WAGs earlier this month, we decided to demonstrate a virtually hassle free, high impact menu which, because the individual Wellingtons can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 24 hours, makes them ideal for a dinner party or Valentine's day supper. The menu:

To start
Jewelled chicory salad, blue cheese, mint.

To follow
Venison Wellingtons, green beans, braised red cabbage.

To finish
Iced seasonal berries, warm white chocolate sauce.

The simple salad starter has made an appearance here before.

While the individual Wellingtons (more usually made with beef) have become firm favourites at Charlie and Evelyn's Table. You can see step by step photos here or follow the steps below.

Quantities are rough as it really depends on the size of the fillets you are using but, any leftovers of the mushroom duxelle work really well as crostini topping.

To serve four, you will need:

Four individual venison or beef fillets
2 bags of spinach
2 medium aubergines
350g puff pastry
1 egg (beaten)
Handful of plain flour
Sprinkling of sesame seeds
Four shallots / one white onion
Good section of mushrooms about 300g - we use a mixture of Chestnut, Portobello and Porcini
100ml double cream
Olive oil
Truffle oil
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
Good pinch of fresh thyme
Splash of brandy

Firstly, steam two bags of spinach. This acts as a layer of protection to prevent the juices of the meat leaking through the pastry so this needs to be squeezed out and dried (between layers of kitchen roll) after steaming.

Next, make the mushroom duxelles (minced mushrooms).

To do this, gently fry four shallots or one white onion in a pan with little olive oil. Then add a good selection of mushrooms really anything you can get your hands on - the more interesting the better! Once the mushrooms are cooked, season with salt and pepper and add a generous glug of truffle oil and a splash of brandy. This gives the mushroom a wonderful, intense flavour but if you don't like the taste of truffle, add a crushed garlic clove with the shallot. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir through double cream until it has a soft consistency but isn't runny.
Leave to cool.

Thinly slice aubergine and fry on a griddle pan until lightly charred.

Sear the meat until it is just brown - do not cook at this stage - this is done in the oven later.

Assemble the Wellingtons step by step.

1. Dust a board with flour, roll out the puff pastry to 0.5 cm thick, straight from the fridge.
2. Lay the aubergine on the pastry
3. Add a layer of the mushroom duxelles.
4. Place the spinach on top of the duxelles.
5. Top with fillet.
6. Add another layer of spinach.
7. Fold and seal the pastry using a beaten egg and either your fingers or a fork to make a small pattern.
8. Trim off the excess pastry so you're left with a neat pillow shape.

If necessary the Wellingtons can now be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.

Before cooking brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Cook for 18-20 mins (medium rare) in an oven at about 190 degrees. The pastry should be golden brown and the meat pink on the middle.

Leave to rest for five minutes, cut in half and serve. Serve with braised red cabbage and green beans, or vegetables of your choice.

Finally, a simple pudding, similar to a rather famous version of the dish served at The Ivy.

You will need:
4 portions (size really depends on how fruity you want it) seasonal frozen berries - either fresh which you can freeze or ready frozen berries
500ml double cream
200g Green and Black's white chocolate with vanilla

Lift the berries from the freezer around ten minutes before serving so that they loose their chill.

Warm the cream over a low heat in a saucepan. Finely grate the chocolate (to help it to melt). When the cream is hot but not boiling, stir through the chocolate. You will see the chocolate shavings, melt, almost separate, keep stirring and a smooth consistency will return. Pour the warm sauce over the berries and enjoy.

Happy Valentine's Day!

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