Happy post-Valentine’s Day! I hope you are all basking in the afterglow of whatever sort of fun you engaged in yesterday.
In the nearly five years that Mike and I have been together, we have never gone out to dinner on Valentine’s Day. In fact, with the exception of our traditional anniversary meal at Marlow and Sons, we prefer dining in on most real or manufactured holidays. It gives us a chance to do a bit of “stunt cooking,” trying new preparations and working with higher-end ingredients. When brainstorming ideas for our meal, I looked back through a long list of bookmarked recipes. I came across a photoset of the mini Beef Wellingtons the dynamic duo over at Married with Dinner had prepared over the Christmas holiday and it sounded like just what I was looking for. I mean, really, filets of beef, mushroom duxelles, puff pastry, foie gras… what’s not to love? As it turned out it was an extremely easy dish to put together on a weeknight since the most labor-intensive stuff could be done ahead of time.
Mike mixed up a batch of pastry dough on Wednesday, experimenting with a mix of half butter and half rendered leaf lard, but he was a little unsure about how well it would work for the Wellingtons, so I picked up an emergency back-up package of DuFour all butter puff pastry. He seared the filets in our cast iron skillet when he got home from work on Thursday and set them in the fridge to chill, and I prepared the duxelles in the same pan when he was finished. Once the mushrooms and meat were both well-chilled, I rolled out the pastry and got ready to assemble, layering the duxelles and filets on top of the pastry, topping each with a slice of foie gras, sealing them up and brushing them with a bit of egg wash before placing them into a preheated 400 degree oven.
Because of the thickness of our filets, I let them bake for about 18 minutes before removing them and letting them rest while I sautéed a handful of green beans and made a quick pan sauce, again using our cast iron skillet. I combined about half a cup of red wine and an equal amount of Bobolink’s suckled veal demi-glace, reducing it until it was thick and syrupy, and finishing it with a knob of cold butter before spooning it onto our plates, setting the Wellingtons on top.
This was a truly luxurious meal, and as it turned out, when we added the cost of the filets of grass-fed Angus beef from Elk Trails, the tin of D’Artagnan duck foie gras, the puff pastry, the ingredients for the duxelles and pan sauce and the bottle of wine we picked up to go with it, we actually spent less than we do on most dinners out at our regular haunts. Nice, and we didn’t have to worry about disapproving stares when we mopped up the last little bits of pan sauce/beef juices/melty foie gras with our fingers.
Wine Pairing: Once we decided what we were cooking, we made a beeline for Uva Wines and asked wine guy Dan to recommend a bottle. We wanted something a little splurgier than normal, and he had a few good suggestions in our price range. He went to retrieve a bottle we had selected from the cellar but returned with that and another option, this 1999 Billard-Gonnet Pommard Premier Cru. One of the other store employees had recommended it as a great wine and a good match for our meal, and because it had a few more years in the bottle than the other wine we were considering, we decided to go for it. It was a delicious wine, round and velvety in the mouth with aromas of dark fruit and leather.