Off Topic: Open-Faced Beef Wellington

I made “real” Beef Wellington once, for my husband’s 40th birthday. And it took days. Even without making the puff pastry or the pate from scratch, it was quite a project: a scrumptious and complicated red wine sauce made with oxtails, the Duxelles, the proper cooking of an intimidatingly expensive cut of meat, the assembly, plus a dozen dressed-up guests eagerly awaiting its arrival. Not for the faint of heart.

And while I’m not always looking for short-cuts in the kitchen, this new version, from the February 2011 edition of Cook’s Country, made me seriously wonder if I’ll ever make the long version again.

Again I purchased the puff pastry and I bought the readily-available Pepperidge Farm kind (as I took it out of the freezer case at the store I promised God and Julia Child that I really, truly would learn how to make puff pastry from scratch. Definitely in 2011. Or at least before I’m 60.) Therefore, this requires only that you can saute a piece of meat and saute mushrooms. And I know that you can.

The sauce is a basic pan sauce with shallots, cremini mushrooms (I used shiitakes), red wine and chicken stock, begun and finished with a little butter.

You could absolutely serve this to twelve dressed-up guests and it would take you 20 minutes to get it on the table. It is elegant and delicious. My stupider dog could do it if he wouldn’t just eat the tenderloins right through the wrapper every time.

I served it with broiled asparagus dressed with a lemon-shallot vinaigrette.

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