Here’s have some fun and festive food to finish the year! A lot of us are perfectly happy to see the back of 2020, although of course it remains to be seen if 2021 will be any better. Let’s hope!
I’ve never been too interested in making a classic Beef Wellington; the proportion of beef to pastry seems unpropitious, and slicing it successfully, never mind gracefully, looks like a thing that will not happen in real life. These on the other hand were just the right size and the bits inside came out perfectly cooked when the bits outside were also perfectly cooked. Phew! And really, who wants to futz around with liver paté and duxelles when you could have a cheeseburger?
Premade puff pastry makes these really stupidly easy to put together; they are not much trickier to do than a hamburger in a bun. Put in whatever selection of mustard, ketchup and relish seems good to you (but not too much of any of them), and use a good strong cheese to stand up to all the other flavours going on.
To keep up the cheeseburger theme, I served these with a salad of typical burger toppings, and used Thousand Island dressing on it. I have never been a big fan of Thousand Island dressing, but it seemed appropriate here, and as is so often the case the home-made version is a million times better than anything you can buy, even if it too is made with commercial products from the back of the fridge door. As with the Wellingtons, you can tweak the condiments to reflect your own preference.
Happy New Year! See you then…
4 servings1 hour prep time
Make the Wellingtons:225 grams (1/2 pound) frozen puff pastry500 grams (1 pound) lean ground beefsalt & freshly ground black pepper to tastemustardketchup relish125 grams (1/4 pound) old Cheddar cheese1 small egg2 teaspoons sesame seeds
Thaw the pastry according to package instructions – usually 8 hours in the fridge or 2 hours on the counter.
Season the ground beef with salt and pepper, and divide into 4 equal portions. Form each portion into a patty. I fold the meat over itself several times to distribute the seasonings, but otherwise try not to work it too much. Patties should be fairly flat – about 4″ across when done.
Brown them for 2 minutes on each side in a skillet or griddle over high heat – the goal is to brown them, but not to cook them through. Remove them at once to a plate and let them cool. If not proceeding immediately, cover them and put them in the fridge. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
Meanwhile, cut the pastry into 4 equal portions and roll each one out to increase its size by an inch or so in each direction. Put a little bit of mustard, ketchup, and relish in the middle of each piece, and top with a 30 gram (1 ounce) slice of cheese. Top with a cooled burger. Fold up 2 opposite corners of the pastry to meet at the middle of the patty. Wet the corners and edges of the pastry with cold water to allow it to stick together. Fold up the other 2 corners and press the edges into the previously folded up, moistened edges. You are likely to get little sharp corners at the bottom; fold and press them in too, to make a neat, roundish, and sealed packet. Turn the encased cheeseburger over and poke a few small holes in the top with a fork. Place it on the prepared pan and repeat with the remaining 3 Wellingtons.
Whisk the egg and brush the Wellingtons with it. Sprinkle them with the sesame seeds. Bake for 30 minutes if going straight into the oven, or for 40 minutes if they were refrigerated. (Still a good idea to take them out of the fridge 10 minutes before baking). Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
Make the Thousand Island Dressing:1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice1 tablespoon ketchup1 tablespoon Dijon mustard2 tablespoons relish1 teaspoon Worcestershire saucefreshly ground black pepper and sweet paprika to taste
Whisk everything together in a small bowl. This can be made up to 24 hours in advance.
Make the Salads:1 head hydroponic lettuce
1 or 2 hydroponic tomatoes1 or 2 hydroponic cucumbers3 or 4 slices of dill pickle3 or 4 slices of red onion, sprinkled with salt and drained
Core the lettuce, and discard any damaged leaves. Wash and drain the rest. Arrange them divided amongst 4 plates. Core and slice the tomato, and arrange over the lettuce. Wash, trim, and slice the cucumber and arrange over the lettuce. Chop the dill pickle and arrange over the salads. Slice and quarter the onion, sprinkle with salt, and drain in a strainer for 15 minutes before rinsing and and draining well, and arranging it over the salads. Drizzle with the salad dressing.
Last year at this time I made Pumpkin Seed & Bean Purée with Roasted Lamb Chops & Oil-Poached Garlic.