Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ground Beef Wellington

A friend from high school asked me about this, and I'd never heard of it before. Looking into recipes, I thought it sounded interesting, and something new to do with ground beef is always welcome. I took the basic recipe from AllRecipes.com and then changed the sauce completely and added a lot more seasoning than they called for; their version sounded very bland to me. This is the final product and it was a big hit!

The next time I make it, I think I'm going to make the portions smaller: turn the four servings into eight pieces. I think it will be a nicer presentation and probably bake better as well. One thing I'm still mentally working out is the juices from the ground beef making the bottom crusts a little bit soggy - it wasn't a big deal, but I'd still like to improve it. I used 90% lean ground beef and still had a bit of that - fattier ground beef would be a bigger issue. Anyway, here it is!
Makes four servings. Heat oven to 350. Sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 large shallot, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 1/3 cup fat free half and half
Melt the butter and add shallots, thyme and pepper. Saute over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the sherry and raise the heat to high. Let cook down until almost dry. Reduce heat to medium. Add the flour and stir well; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the beef broth, whisking it in gradually. Let sauce simmer 10 minutes to reduce and then add half and half. Whisk to mix and let simmer over very low heat; it will continue to reduce and thicken. Variation: Add 1 cup sliced or diced mushrooms when adding the shallots. If you're feeding mushroom haters and mushroom lovers at the same time, saute the mushrooms separately and add to half the sauce right before serving. While sauce simmers, start on filling. Filling:
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 cup finely minced onion
  • 1/2 large shallot, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
Combine beef, egg yolks only, onion, shallot and seasonings. Add 4 tablespoons of the sauce and mix well. Shape into 4 small loaves. To assemble:
  • 2 cans reduced-fat crescent rolls
  • 2 egg whites mixed with 1 tablespoon water
Trust me on this: keep the crescent rolls refrigerated until you absolutely need them. Divide each package of dough into two portions and pinch the seams to seal. Place a meat loaf in the center of each one, fold dough over it and pinch the ends to seal. Parchment or waxed paper on the counter makes this much easier to do! Seal any seams that opened in the folding step. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. After that time, brush with the egg white/water mixture and bake another 10 minutes. Serve with the sauce. Of course, this can be made with nothing fat-free or reduced fat; that's just how I did it. I'm sure it would be wonderful with heavy cream and regular crescent rolls.

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