When I was in high school, Mr. Holleman, one of my English teachers, invited a number of students to his house for dinner. I don't recall what we were celebrating, but I do remember that he made Lamb Wellington. It was a delicious and elegant dinner. We were all impressed, but not nearly as impressed as I am today. Lamb Wellington is a major production, and we'd have been just as happy with pizza! I'm even more impressed because he had to make the pastry dough, too. I have no idea what happened to Mr. Holleman, but I bet he's still a great cook.
When I was shopping recently, I came across something called Puff Pastry Dough Squares. They're frozen and the package says they're excellent for croissants and turnovers. Hmm, but I had something more savory in mind.
Unlike frozen filo dough, this doesn't need to defrost overnight. Twenty minutes does the trick. That makes it easier to handle, too, because it's still cold when you're working with it. I'm planning to try out some more ideas, but I went for beef filets first.
I kept the contents simple for my first try, simply salting and peppering the meat. Honestly, that was all it needed. I used mustard, but it wasn't necessary at all.
I learned a few things this time around, too. It makes a beautiful presentation. Try them out on family before you make them for a dinner party, but they look gorgeous.
Use a high quality cut of beef, preferably tenderloin. The individual servings of meat should be fairly small, because they have to fit into two squares, approximately 4x4 inches. But look for thick pieces of meat. The one complaint I had was that the meat was overcooked for my taste. It came out medium, when I would have much preferred medium rare. While it seems like the solution to that would be to simply cook it for a shorter period of time, the pastry dough has to cook for about twenty minutes or it won't puff properly. So it seems to me the solution is to use a thicker piece of meat.
Another thing I learned as I went is to rub olive oil around the edge of the pastry dough BEFORE you place the meat or anything else on it. It's just much simpler that way. Of course, you could add cheese or some of the mushrooms on top of the meat if you want to -- I'll be trying some of those variations and will let you know how it goes.
So here's the recipe, simple as can be, but oh, so tasty!
Beef Filet in Puff Pastry
4 pieces frozen puff pastry dough squares
2 thick, small beef tenderloin pieces
Follow the instructions on the filo package about thawing.
Preheat oven to 400.
Salt and pepper the steaks on both sides.
Pour 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan at medium heat. Brown the steaks on each side for about 1 minute and remove from heat.
Meanwhile lightly grease a baking sheet, or cover it with parchment paper.
Use two pieces of the square filo dough for each steak. Dab a little bit of olive oil on your finger and run it around the edges of both filo squares. Place the steak on one piece. If using mustard, spread a little bit in the middle of the other piece. Then take the top piece and lay it over the steak, olive oil side down.
Whisk the egg and brush over tops of both pastry packets.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Serve topped with Mushroom Sauce, below.
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 1/4 cups chopped mushrooms (cremini, button, Portobello)
1/2 cup chicken stock + 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon flour
Mince the garlic and cut the mushrooms into 1/2 inch cubes.
Pour the olive oil into a pan over lowish heat and add the garlic. When fragrant, add the mushrooms and 1/2 cup chicken stock. Cook gently, stirring occasionally. Mix the flour with 1 tablespoon chicken stock until the flour dissolves and there are no lumps. Slowly stir it into the mushroom mixture to thicken it. Add salt and pepper to taste.