Sunday, January 9, 2011

Call Me Donkey

I have a guilty pleasure.  I know, I say it like I have just one *pfft*, but I'm open about this one.  It's a pleasure I do not deny myself and I won't hide it.  I'm not ashamed of it.  I heart Gordon Ramsey.  I have a friend who despises him, for what reason I do not know, but I suppose it's fair.  He's not everyone's cup of tea.  He is, for me, one of two chefs that I adore purely for their unabated love for taking simple, fresh ingredients and turning them into masterpieces.  Since returning home to Canada, I have taken my kitchen by storm; whirling around trying any new recipe I can get my hands on, however simple or challenging.  I believe this has taught me to take a second look at what we're putting in our mouths and make sure it counts.  I want it to be healthy.  And I want it to be good.  Damn good.

And so, in my foodie blog surfing, cookbook page flipping, and chef-driven boob-tube addiction (I don't remember that last time I watched something on television that wasn't related to food, unless my husband has the remote, and then there's usually a ball and a ref involved), I have found a few dishes here and there that piqued my interest.

Gordon Ramsey's Beef Wellington has been one of them.  I've seen him make it a thousand times on Hell's Kitchen.  And I've loved watching him call the innocent, doe-eyed dude a donkey when it comes out wrong.  It can't be that hard, can it?  Then, I got Ramsey's iPhone app.  Lo and behold, the Wellington was an item, with video thank you my dear chef Ramsey, that you could take a crack at if you had the balls to attempt the 'expertise' level recipe.  It was with great excitement and slight trepidation that I made up my mind to master this Wellington.  I would not be called a fat cow by the man.

And so it began.  I followed all of his tips.  Watched all of his techniques.  And had a good go at it.  

Ramsey calls for the sirloin to be wrapped in mushrooms and proscuitto.  Check.

Sirloin seared and resting.  Water sauteed out of the mushrooms and cooled.  Proscuitto on the plastic wrap, mushrooms down, sirloin ready.  What is all of the hullabaloo about?  

And wrapped!  Now for the puff pastry.
Now I suppose I was feeling a little confident at this point, how could I not?  It was lookin' good.  Ramsey called for the puff pastry to be rolled out to the thickness of a £1 coin, which lets face it, I don't really know how thick that is.  Is that like a Loonie?  A Twoonie?  Maybe a quarter?  Eff.  Let's just wing it... that's what I do, right?  Pastry rolled, sirloin wrapped, wellington egg-washed, and into the oven it went.
I have to confess that I although I wasn't feeling totally cocksure about my Wellington, I was, let's say, feeling upbeat.  I had done it (so far) without any major hiccups and was happy I could deliver a good result.  After 35 minutes in 350ºF, I popped it out, and let it rest like a good girl should.

Not to shabby right?  

As I sliced into the, what looked to be pretty perfect Wellington, I was feeling hopeful.  Could I really have done it on my first try?

It turns out, the hardest part of the damn dish was cutting it with the precision of a ninja on a dark starry night.  

The puff pastry flaked away, shifted, was a mangled mess.  It looked as if I had maimed it with a kid's beach toy instead of my new, fancy knives.  Looking at the puffy, meaty mess, I felt injured.  It happened.  I had failed.  It tasted delicious but looked like a pile of discombobulated meaty delicacy.  Had Ramsey been in my kitchen, he would have called me a stupid donkey and thrown a fork at me.  I would have deserved it.

I have resolved to try it again.  I was convinced, by the sheer taste alone, that I could do better.  I had to.  And I think I even know what my nemesis was: £1 coin puff pastry.

Anyone have a £1?  Wellington, you will not defeat me.


  1. Well Donkey,
    I applaud your attempt. I am not sure I would have moseyed down that path. It does look delicious and I am sure it was... If the presentation was lacking, well, that's ok. I don't think you're really a donkey.

  2. A £1 coin is bit thicker than a loonie... I just compared. ;) (Hi!)

  3. And there ya have it... I shot way thicker than that :)

    P.S. Leah, I love your blog. It's fabulous.