Saturday, January 09, 2010

Mushroom Wellington

*Guest post by Christine*

The Mushroom Wellington is a grander version of the humble nut roast with lots of Christmassy flavours added and is the perfect centrepiece for a vegetarian Christmas dinner as it can be frozen weeks ahead, uncooked and baked straight from the freezer in 45 minutes. You are advised to make two as meat eaters will want some too.

The mushrooms in this dish are slowly simmered in sherry and tamari to create a rich jus and these are blended with cashews, ground almonds, onions, fresh tarragon and fresh wholewheat breadcrumbs. Combined together, this "pate" is first moulded into an oblong about 11" x 4" x 2" and then covered in a layer of puff pastry which is plaited to keep the filling inside and to give the finished dish a crisp golden casing.

The dish feeds six easily with two slices per person plus festive roasted potatoes and parsnips; sprouts finished with sauted chestnuts, port gravy and gingered cranberry sauce. I found it very stress free especially as one guest even offered to make the bread sauce.

Mushroom Wellington
(these quantities make 2 Wellingtons and serve 12-16)

500g/1lb 5oz puff pastry
60ml/2 floz sunflower oil
675g/1 1/2 lb onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
450g/ 1 lb chestnut mushrooms, left whole
2 tables fresh tarragon
2 tables tamari
2 tables sherry or Marsala
freshly ground pepper
11 1/2 ozs broken cashews
175g/ 6 oz fine, fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
320g/11 oz ground almonds
1 egg beaten, for glazing

Method:- (This looks like a lot of instructions but in fact it is fairly straight forward)

1) Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface into two rectangles 12 x 9 inches each and set aside, in fridge, until required.

2) To make filling, heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onions with half the garlic for about 20 minutes - you want deep brown rich coloured ones not the insipid pale variety - remove from pan and put aside. In the same pan add the mushrooms with the rest of the garlic and half the tarragon and cook on a fairly high heat - after about 10 minutes add the tamari and alcohol and continue until the mushrooms are cooked through and you have a nice inky jus. Season with pepper. Set aside and retain all the mushroom liquor.

3) In a processor, blend the cashews with the mushroom liquor to a fine puree adding a little more alcohol if necessary and put into a large bowl, then finely blend the onions and add to bowl; finely blend the mushrooms and add to bowl; finally add the ground almonds, breadcrumbs and remaining tarragon and mix well. The mixture should just hold its shape when formed with the hands.

4) Preheat oven to 220 C/425 F/gas mark 7. Remove pastry from fridge and place the two rectangles on a floured surface; place half the filling on one sheet forming a shape about 11" by 3" x 2" high. Then with the pointed end of a knife make diagonal cuts at a 45 degree angle starting from the left hand corner of the pastry towards the pate mixture. Repeat at the right hand corner cutting down towards the centre. The strips should be about 3/4" wide. Fold the end pieces in first and then draw strips from left and then right crossing them over so that the mixture is snuggly wrapped up. Repeat this once more for the other Wellington.

5) At this stage you can wrap in foil and freeze, or glaze generously with beaten egg and place on a floured tray and bake in the oven from between 35 - 45 mins until golden. Allow to cool slightly before serving.

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