Well March, here we are.
In a passive aggressive attempt to avoid writing my recap of my abject failure at Austin Half Marathon, I’ve avoided posting really much of anything this month after my Better Good Things post. And though the race recap will inevitably make it’s way to the party at some point it’s been trumped by a very fancy food adventure that I embarked upon for this month’s First on the First challenge.
This month we were challenged to Beef Wellington. Super fancy, right!? Thoughts of turning Chez Larson into a fancy, gilded steakhouse with two dapper, tuxedo-clad beagle waiters danced through my dreams. And though is a remarkably adorable dream sequence- two immediate problems emerge here: 1) We’re Texans, and we like our steaks grilled and sans frills so pastry coated filet just aint my cuppa tea, y’all! (You see what I did with the colloquialisms, there?); and 2) I stink at red meat preparation.
Let me be very practical- from the very beginning, this challenge stood there glaring at me with neon dollar signs behind it. It was going to be expensive to attempt. The thought of knowingly walking into a challenge where I would obliterate countless dollars worth of filet, pate, mushrooms, wine and puff pastry made me sick. I ran through the options… Chicken Wellington? That shouldn’t be a thing. Seitan Wellington? Too odd a juxtaposition. Lobster Wellington? It’s a real thing and a task I could feel more confident to tackle.
I did a lot of research beforehand in an attempt to lessen the chances of failure and settled on a recipe from the Battle House Hotel as a guidepost. I also decided that I would make life easier and only work with tails, make individual servings, and save myself the headache of homemade puff pasty and seafood stock in this application and instead rely on market ready shortcuts that I know provide consistent results.
This still holds the distinction of being the most expensive single course meal I’ve ever prepared: lobster tails (almost $40 for 4 at WFM), Dufour puff pastry ($10 for two sheets), a bottle of Groth 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (not a budget breaker on it’s own, but at $17 a bottle things are adding up), seafood stock glace ($7 for 1.5 oz), plus organic veggies…. by the end of my shopping trip I knew that this would either be a post about a really great recipe that I’d made once and hadn’t further road tested for bumps or a post about ruining the most expensive meal I’d ever attempted. No room in the budget for do overs!
In addition to bearing to title of most expensive meal I’ve attempted, it also happens to be the meal for which I’ve taken the worst photos ever- a particularly interesting distinction given that we all know I taken generally terrible photos at all times. So there you go. They’re really bad.
But the Lobster Wellington turned out to be really good- shoddy photos aside. Like, really good!
And I discovered that Baby Bird loves lobster. And I discovered that she is a total food snob as she accused me of not making “real lobsters” since I just used tails.
Oh, the trials of raising a teeny gourmand. Maybe I shouldn’t have introduced her to Rick Bayless so early in life…
Individual Lobster Wellingtons with Colorful Vegetable Medley
(Method as written uses two ovens)
Lobster Wellington Ingredients:
- 4 lobster tails
- 2 sheets puff pastry
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 bunch rainbow chard, leaves and stems separated
- 2 cups Sauvignon Blanc
- 1 container More Than Gourmet Glace de Fruits de Mer Gold
- 3 large shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 sprigs of thyme
- 6 tbs cold butter, cubed
- Stems of rainbow chard
- 1 head purple cauliflower
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1 tbs butter
- olive oil
Directions: Steam the lobster tails for 6 minutes. Remove meat and set aside to allow to cool.
Combine wine and shallots in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and reduce by half.
Bring a pot of water to boil and prepare an ice bath. Julienne the stems of the chard. Blanch the chard leaves in boiling water for one minute. Transfer leaves to an ice bath to stop the cooking and towel dry.
Dilute the Glace de Fruits de Mer with 2 1/2 cups warm water and stir to combine. Add mixture and thyme sprigs to wine and shallots and reduce again by half.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F for lobster and 400 degrees F for cauliflower.
Cut cauliflower into small florets and toss with 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes.
Make an egg wash with 1 egg yolk and 1 tbsp water.
Lay out chard leaves to form four flat sheets shaped like squares for lobster tails. Place lobster tail in the center of each square. Wrap lobster tails in chard leaves. Cut each puff pastry sheet in two. Lay chard wrapped lobster tails atop each portion of puff pastry. There should be a portion at the end of each puff pastry segment that will be visibly unnecessary for encasing the lobster- remove this and set aside. Seal each lobster tail portion inside the puff pastry, pinching to close. Seal with egg wash. Using a small star pastry cutter, cut stars from remaining puff pastry. Adhere over seam with egg wash.
Bake lobster tails for about 20 minutes, or until light golden brown.
Remove sauce from heat. Remove thyme sprigs and slowly whisk in butter, tbsp by tbsp. Pass through a fine mesh strainer.
Cut asparagus into small segments. In a pan over medium high heat, saute asparagus in a tsp of olive oil until tender crisp. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and add 1 tbsp of butter in which to saute the julienned chard stems.
Toss together the asparagus, chard stems, and cauliflower before serving.
To serve, coat bottom of plate with sauce. Slice lobster wellington in half. Place the lobster wellington atop the sauce and garnish with vegetables.
Looking for some Beef Wellington options made from… well… beef? Check out the options from our other First on the First ladies: