Mushroom Wellington - quick & easy meat-free recipe
Mushroom Wellington - a quick and easy vegetarian recipe
When I was a kid, it was unusual for the man of the house to cook very often, but my dad had one lovely specialty, Beef Wellington. This was a long time ago and I can't remember the recipe at all but I do recall the crisp, flaky pastry, the sliced mushrooms marinated in booze and the lovely flavors. When I decided to eat a meat-free diet,
I didn't miss the meat at all but I still had fond memories of this dish. To make it today - I think my dad used brandy as well as the best quality steak - would cost a fortune but I developed a vegetarian recipe using portobello mushrooms, a delicious tomato pesto and red wine.
Despite this being the sort of meal that you can happily make for sophisticated guests, it's quick and easy to prepare. This makes it ideal for regular weekday meals too because it its simplicity.
When I make it for the two of us, I use regular Cheddar cheese because it's cheaper and it's an ingredient I always have in the fridge but to make this into an even more special dish, especially for high days and holidays, try substituting it for Stilton - that makes it even more luxurious. Served with a simple salad, this dish really takes some beating!
Photograph © BritFlorida.
This will serve two
- 2 large portobello mushrooms
- 2 - 3 oz. Cheddar cheese, cut into slices
- 1 slab frozen puff pastry, defrosted
- About a tablespoon red wine
- 2 tablespoons tomato and garlic pesto - I use Sacla brand
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Fresh black pepper
- Salad to serve
PREPARE THE PORTOBELLOS
You'll be broiling these so preheat the broiler to high. Clean the mushrooms gently - there's no need to peel them - and cut off the ends of the stalks. Fold them into a paper towel to dry them.
PREPARE TO COOK THE MUSHROOMS
Place the portobellos in an oven proof dish. Pour the olive oil over them - both sides. If you have a pastry brush use it to make sure that the oil is well distributed. (I just use my fingers). Put the dish under the broiler - about 4 or 5 inches away from the heat is just about right - and cook them for two or three minutes, turn them and cook the undersides for the same amount of time. Remove the dish and heat the oven to 400°.
GET READY TO ROLL THE PASTRY
Lightly flour a large board or the countertop. If you don't have a rolling pin (I don't) use a clean jar or wine bottle.
ADD THE WINE
The mushrooms will now be sitting in a lovely mix of their liquor with beads of olive oil. With the undersides uppermost, pour the wine on the 'feathers' - see below. Put the dish back into the oven while you prepare the pastry.
CREATE THE PASTRY SHAPES
You need four circles of pastry, two for each mushroom. As you can see, I use a bowl as a pastry cutter. Because my portobellos were different sizes, I used the bowl for the larger one and a mug for the smaller one. If I was serving this for a dinner party I'd buy portobellos that were the same size! Once you have these circles ready, remove the mushrooms from the oven.
You'll need another oven dish now, one that is larger than the first. Do not put the first one into the dishwasher or sink. You are going to use the liquor later. It will probably have reduced to just a couple of teaspoons. Place two circles into the dish. Place a mushroom on each. Top with the tomato pesto. Add the slices of cheese.
PEPPER / WINE LIQUOR
Take the 'dirty' dish that you used to broil the mushrooms. The liquid should have reduced to about two teaspoons. If it's less, add a little water. If it's more (which is unlikely) you can simply reduce it further in the microwave or in a small pan on the stove. Add freshly-ground black pepper and pour a teaspoon over each loaded portobello.
FINALIZE THE PIES
Add the other pastry circles on top. Crimp the edges with your finger and thumb to seal. Cut a slit on the top of each. This will let steam escape and keep the pastry crisp. If I was making several of these for a larger group of people, I would brush the tops with beaten egg. This gives the pastry a lovely golden glaze which is so attractive. When I'm cooking for the two of us, my frugal side can't justify the expense of an egg for the sake of prettiness!
Place these in the oven. They will take about twenty minutes and are ready when the pastry is golden. While they are baking, pour yourself a glass of wine and leisurely prepare a quick salad.
This time, it was a quick salad of assorted leaves, sliced tomatoes and a lemon wedge each.
Beef Wellington is a traditional and well known English dish. English cooking has been greatly maligned over the years thanks, I think, to two factors - Mrs Beeton and wartime rationing - but those are subjects I'll discuss elsewhere. Learn about the REAL British cuisine!
Yes, British cooking really is a well kept secret. When the jet age arrived and people from the USA started to visit in numbers, the well-fed Americans were unimpressed by our food.
The reason was that we still had food rationing in the Uk until 1954. Read about the real British cookery.
Today we have so many fabulous British chefs. You've probably seen them on television. See just one example below.
Jamie Oliver is typical of today's British chefs. He specialises in tasty and wholesome meals using fresh ingredients that are locally sourced whenever possible.
He is also very concerned about ensuring that the food he prepares is healthy, inexpensive and planet-friendly. It doesn't get much better.
Try traditional British cuisine too.
The United Kingdom has a long history of fine food. In addition to the current crop of chefs,it's also interesting to read - and cook - traditional foods that have stood the test of time.
© 2013 Jackie Jackson