The topical themed centerpiece for Gluttony Digest issue #6 release party on Armistice Day 2007. Inspired by traditional beef Wellington recipes and resources, a whole beef tenderloin and mushroom duxelle were encased in a pâte a foncer (50% fat in 60 butter/40 duck fat proportions) and baked the closest equilibrium of sufficiently colored pastry and a medium beef temperature.
The duxelle was achieved by sautéing a medley of cremini, button and shiitake mushrooms in foie gras fat on high heat until caramelized and dry, then shallots and picked thyme, and the entirety pulsed in the food processor until coarse. The tenderloin ends were cut, the “barrel” cleaned of all sinew and resourcefully seared on a sheet pan heated over a gas burner. The seared beef barrel was allowed to rest and the juices were incorporated into the duxelle.
This being a maiden voyage into the realm of full sized beef Wellington, the pastry was cautiously rolled largely enough out to allow for crimping and the contour of the barrel and duxelle. A third of the duxelle was spread onto the pastry base, the barrel placed on top and the remaining mix encased the beef. The pastry topside was placed tightly over the filling and both pastry layers were crimped together with the seam being hidden by a nautical themed pastry braid. Chimneys were carved to allow passage for escaping steam and sculpted to resemble the iconic smoke stacks.
The U-Boat was constructed from PVC pipe and plexiglass. The potato salad consisted of quartered red bliss and Yukon gold potatoes gently simmered in seasoned water until properly tender and then tossed while warm with bacon lardons in an emulsified dressing of said bacon fat, olive oil, sherry vinegar, minced raw shallot and whole grain mustard.
An accoutrement of homemade mustard was envisioned but the initial taste was downright toxic and would have made the German bio-warfare R&D department blush.
Ship’s log and navigation errors: A tremendous amount of “juice” surprisingly flowed from the Wellington upon the first cut. A return trip would benefit from adding breadcrumbs to the duxelle to absorb the juices released from the beef. A heavier coat of egg wash and a higher initial oven temperature would have generated a darker color and lead to a shorter cooking time which would have kept the beef on the cusp of medium even after resting. Delicious nonetheless.
A brioche or other leavened dough could have eliminated the gaps between the filling and crust due to the shrinkage and offered a better product with stronger structural integrity. The mustard powder may have been activated for too long before adding the vinegar and made for an efficient decongesting condiment.