Thursday, February 19, 2015

Battling the Post V-Day Doldrums: Beef Wellington Turnovers With Creamy Peppercorn Sauce

My husband celebrated a big birthday a couple of days ago. As our tradition dictates, the birthday celebrant calls the shots on his or her big day and the rest of us are happy (most of the time) to oblige. So when my husband decided that it was to be homemade surf and turf, I had no other choice than to make his dream come true.

This year for the turf portion, I decided to buy a whole tenderloin, trim it and cut it myself and hopefully be left with a few extra steaks to enjoy later. I did indeed land up with a couple of bonus filets, but I also found myself with about a pound of small tender tidbits from the trimming to use in any fun way I desire. The dog tried desperately to convince me that he needed it, but unfortunately for him his pleas fell on deaf ears.

Since we are all suffering a serious letdown from all the birthday/Valentine's Day decadence, I've decided that today we need a little pick me up in the form of Beef Wellington turnovers. The tasty bits of beef and mushrooms that are wrapped up in puff pastry and drenched in a creamy peppercorn sauce are a cheaters way of eating upscale for cheap. I guess Buzz Feed would call this a hack.

Tenderloin trimmings may be what I am using here, but I have also used leftover pot roast or small pieces of inexpensive beef that I have braised until tender. This is really a great weeknight dish or an economical  dinner party main that will really please all of your guests. So if you are suffering from the post Valentine's Day doldrums, here ya go . . . the cure.

Beef Wellington Turnovers With Creamy Peppercorn Sauce

The first few steps of this recipe will produce a duxelles which is a mushroom, shallot and herb mixture named after the Marquis d' Uxelles, a French nobleman back in the day. This mushroom mixture is great all by itself, served on toast or crackers, or as a filling for omelettes or ravioli. So, if you are fortunate enough to land up with a bit extra, put a piece of bread in the toaster and enjoy. That's called a chef's treat.

4 slices bacon, thinly sliced across
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
1 large shallot, coarsely chopped
1 large clove garlic, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound beef tenderloin, cubed into 1" pieces
2 teaspoons oil
6 - 5" puff pastry squares
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 egg, beaten
Creamy Peppercorn Sauce (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place bacon in a medium size frying pan and fry until almost crispy over a medium high heat. Remove all but a tablespoon of the drippings.

While the bacon is cooking, place the mushrooms, shallot and garlic in a food processor and process until everything is very finely chopped.

To the pan drippings, add the butter and melt. Once the butter is melted add the mushrooms, shallot garlic and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are soft and shallots are translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to a medium size bowl.

Sprinkle tenderloin cubes with a bit of salt and pepper; drizzle with oil. In a separate non-stick frying pan set over medium high heat, saute the tenderloin cubes just enough to give them some color. Transfer to a medium size bowl.

To assemble turnovers, follow the steps below:

Spread the inside of each uncooked puff pastry square with about 1 teaspoon of your favorite Dijon mustard. Spoon a tablespoon (- +) of the duxelles on top of the mustard.

Top the duxelles and mustard with about 1/6 of the meat. Dampen the edges of the pastry with water. Pull the edges of the pastry dough up to meet each other, forming a triangle. Press the edges together, crimping with a fork if desired.

Brush top and sides with a beaten egg.

Place turnovers into the preheated oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until golden brown. Don't worry if they break open during baking as the juices form the most delicious glaze under the turnovers which is actually my favorite bit. Yum!

Cool for just a few minutes before transferring to a serving plate and topping with Creamy Peppercorn Sauce and serving.

Creamy Peppercorn Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
1 large shallot, finely minced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 cup beef broth
1/3 cup brandy
1 cup cream
1 teaspoon green peppercorns in brine

Place butter in a medium size non-stick frying pan which has been set over medium high heat. Once the butter is melted and starting to sizzle, add the shallot and cook until it has started to soften which will take just a couple of minutes. At this point add the crushed garlic and thyme leaves and saute for a minute longer.

Add the beef broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture is reduced in about half, approximately 5 minutes.

Add the brandy and cook for another couple of minutes to let the alcohol evaporate and the flavor mellow.

At this point add the cream and the peppercorns, smashing the peppercorns up a bit with the back of a spoon. Simmer this mixture until it reduces about in half.

Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Yields about 1 cup

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