Portobello Wellington

Portobello Wellington

Does it seem like I’m stuck in a wellington rut? Perhaps I am. I had thought about making eggplant wellington for Christmas Eve dinner with my family, but my dad doesn’t like eggplant (obviously he’s never tried eggplant everybody can love!) And it occurred to me that the steakiest of all vegetables has to be portobello mushrooms, and wouldn’t that suit a wellington! Yes, it did!

Apologies in advance if this seems garbled. I’ve got a boxing day haze all on my brain. But here is what I did…I cut the portobellos in thick slices, and cooked them in olive oil, white wine and balsamic till they were dark and crispy. I also roasted some white mushrooms with shallots, garlic and herbs to form the first layer on the pastry. And I cooked some big chard leaves until just tender to form the second layer. Then came some sharp cheese and then piles of portobellos.

I used paté brisée instead of puff pastry because I just didn’t have time to do it all! It worked out fine, I think. Crisp and flakey. And we had it with herbed walnut sauce, which I had added a bit of white wine to in the early stages.

Here’s Duke Ellington’s Toot Toot Tootie Toot from his Nutcracker Suite. Because Ellington rhymes with wellington, of course! Plus, it’s brilliant.
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Eggplant Wellington

Eggplant Wellington

In my mind, beef wellington is the great uncle of savory pastries. The one with the muttonchop whiskers and the velvet smoking jacket, sipping on a brandy. As it happens, this great uncle doesn’t go quite as far back in the family history as you might think. As they tell us over at Historical Foods

The culinary history of Beef Wellington is a bit of a mystery, with far too many theories, (and all of them lacking in any hard evidence) to put this dish any earlier than the 20th Century – it certainly does not appear in any Victorian recipe books. So ignoring for now the myths surrounding this recipe we should instead concentrate on making it.

Indeed we should! For my vegetarian version, I decided to wrap the pastry around eggplant anyone could love (marinated, breaded, baked), I topped it with roasted mushrooms and shallots sprinkled with sherry, and I put a layer of sautéed chard in the middle. It turned out very well indeed! Tasty, and substantial, but not overly heavy considering it’s really only vegetables inside. (And a few slices of cheese!)

It’s not a last-minute meal – it did take a bit of time because there are a few parts to contend with, but most of them could be made earlier in the day, or even the day before. And if you buy your puff pastry, you’d cut down even more time. (I’d be more likely to cheat and use a quick paté brisée before I’d buy frozen puff pastry, though.) It’s very fun to make, too – and a delight to take out of the oven. I felt so proud of myself! It makes a nice crowed-pleasing meal for a special occasion. Like Christmas dinner!

We ate it with a lovely tomato & port wine sauce that went perfectly with all the flavors and textures.

If you liked this, you might like to also try my Portobello Wellington.

If you’d like to compare this to genuine beef wellington, check out Felicity Cloake’s article in the Guardian.

Here’s Michael Coleman, a fiddler active in the 20s, playing Wellington Reels.
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