Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gordon Ramsay's Beef Wellington: Fail

Well, I knew it was hard to do.  And I was lucky in the fact that it was just Fred and I who were eating it.  So, I didn't have an epic fail for dinner.  Just a regular fail.

Still, it was sad.  I had such high hopes.

I watched his video twice.

Gordon Ramsay's Video on Beef Wellington

The Groceries

First there was shopping for everything.  Did you notice that he mentions chestnuts.  Have you ever worked with chestnuts?  Well, fortunately, I have.  They are a pain in the a**.  And you don't just toss them into a bowl and crumble them up, Gordon.  They need processing.  AND, if you are in the US, where we don't eat chestnuts, you have to have a specialty store that will actually carry them.  Thank you Whole Foods.  

Chestnuts are covered in a thick, brown outer skin.  You can't just peel them.  You have to score an X on them and then roast them in the oven for about 10 minutes.  Then when they POP, or look popped, you can take them out and peel them.  That is where the pain in the ... comes in.  

But Gordon says, it adds a nutty flavor and Damn It, I'm doing what Gordon says.  

While I'm at Whole Food, I get the meat.  Filet mignon.  OMG.  Now I know why the article I read said it was ruinously expensive.  I asked for enough for two to try the recipe and the butcher gave me a roast that went from the tip of my finger to my elbow!  SERIOUSLY?!!!  But did I say, "You are insane?!"  No.  Because he was the butcher.  He was the expert and I had asked for his advice.  And if I now said, "You are nuts, that roast could feed Godzilla AND Mothra." That would be mean.  I nicely took the roast and said, "Thank you so much."  Besides which, he had worked so hard on trimming it. I felt bad.

And then I looked at the price. OMG.  We don't even eat beef that much.  Why are we eating this alone?  I curse the heavens.

I go home and unpack the groceries.  No prosciutto.  Crap.  Out to another store for prosciutto.  

And it has to be thin.  Paper thin. 

Cooking the Wellington: My First Mistake

My first mistake is in thinking that all will go smoothly.  I forget that the puff pastry has to be defrosted.  So I tell Fred that we can wait an hour to get started.  We will start at 5.  It only takes 30 min. to cook.  

15 minutes in the fridge for the filet to chill.  Another 15 to chill.  That's another 30.  That's an hour.


The mushrooms need to cook, but that shouldn't take long.  Chestnuts.  Oh yeah.  Gotta roast them.  Poo.  Do that now.  

What am I forgetting.

Freaking puff pastry!  It takes 2 hours to thaw!!!!  Show stopper.  

We need to start NOW!! We start on the chestnuts, the mushrooms.  Fred gets started on a red wine and shallot sauce to go on the side.  I have a white bean salad in the fridge waiting for us.  

I sear the filet and that's when I realize that this roast is really unwieldy.  It doesn't really fit in the pan to sear nicely.  Grr.  I'm trying to do the Gordon trick of searing it on the edge of the pan, but my fat, long roast is not cooperating, plus it isn't wrapped, and it keeps falling apart.  ARGH!!!  I know there are parts that aren't seared.  I pull it out.  

Fine.  I get the mustard out.  I can't find the pastry brush.  Gordon, why can't I use a knife?  A knife works just fine.  I spread mustard on with a knife and it looks exactly the same as the brushed on mustard.  Score one for me.

I put the filet in the fridge.  Wait, should it go in the fridge? Oh, I forgot.  I don't care.

Putting the Wellington Together: Second Mistake

I set up the plastic wrap.  Wait a minute.  Gordon has special plastic wrap.  I think he failed to mention that you need to have plastic wrap that is at least 8 inches on either side of a ridiculously small Wellington roast so that  you can do your neat little cheffy flips and rolls.  Where do you find this enormously large and long plastic wrap: at the Gordon Ramsay store, I bet.

Holy hell.  

Well, my plastic wrap is crap.   Great, I have to pull out great swaths of it and then layer them.  Then comes the prosciutto.  Oh, remember when I said I was getting really thin prosciutto?  That was a mistake.  All of my prosciutto is whisper thin and I am trying to untangle them from their neighbor.  

Oh, please save me from deli specialists who listen and give you what you ask for.  I need sheets to layer, not these cloud-like vaporous prosciutto wannabees.  I try to lay them down to make a sheet.  

Fine.  Fine. Just fine.

I spoon the mushroom chestnut mixture on top.  Oh, did Gordon mention you can only spread in one direction?  Because my prosciutto is coming up.  Crap.  Gordon, you are leaving a lot out.  Maybe it is all my fault.  I should have had thicker ham.  I'm sure Gordon isn't at fault.  He never is.

I get the filet out.  I plop it down.  I need more plastic wrap.  Can I quit now?  


I try to add plastic wrap to the left hand side.  It sucks.  I'm over it.  I decide that the left hand side doesn't exist.  I just won't look over there.  

I start to roll it like Gordon did.  It sort of works.  Sort of, because my mushrooms are gooshing out of the bottom.  Is that normal?  Should I scrape them off?  Or leave them.  Gordon!  You aren't very helpful.  I'm leaving them.  I'm sure that is a mistake.  I have left the realm of good decisions and am wandering around in kitchen hell.

I try to finish rolling it with plastic wrap and do the fancy thing Gordon does.  My plastic wrap laughs at me.

I give up and throw it in the fridge.  Fred and I go watch Maleficent. It is 7:30 pm.

I do the same for the puff pastry and we finally get the Wellington in the oven at 8 pm.  

Gordon says (play the video if you don't believe me) to cook it at 200 for 30 minutes.  I found the BBC recipe that said 220 for 30 minutes.  So, being the rule follower I am, I put the over at 220 for 30 minutes.


At 8:30, we look at it and it is doughy.  not brown and crispy at all.  I turn on the broiler.  Fake it, is my thought.  I'm HUNGRY.

It browns.  We take it out.  We slice it.  It is raw.

Fred uses the thermometer.  83 degrees.

GAHHHHHH.  Gordon!  You are nuts.  200 for 30 minutes is not how you cook meat.

We try for 15 more minutes.  97.

Finally, my hunger knows no bounds.  I up it to 320 for 20 minutes and we get an internal temp of 110.  We eat it.  

It tastes good.  It is after 9.  Way after 9.  Still, I will never make this annoying dish again.

Aren't you glad you didn't come for dinner?


Still One More Mistake!

I post this and then a friend points out that Gordon is in England.  Land of Celsius.

OMG.  200 degrees Celsius is 392 degrees Fahrenheit.  Did I really make that mistake?  So, if we had just used our common sense and said, 220 degrees seems wrong.  Really wrong.  Instead of blindly thinking that everything that Gordon says must be blindly obeyed, I could have eaten at 8:30.

Gordon, you really need to be much more comprehensive in these videos of yours.  Like, I'm in England, silly Americans.  Please make note of this as all my recipes are only for the English and will drive you Americans crazy on purpose.

Does Jamie Oliver do this too?