Here are two delicious recipes from www.watercress.co.uk for a traditional Beef Wellington and a meat-free version so everyone is happy this Christmas who is tired of the same old turkey or nut roast. Are you a fan of watercress?
Beef Wellington with Watercress and Smoked Prosciutto
Serves 6 – Prep time: 25 minutes – Cooking time: 55 minutes plus one hour, chilling
- 800g beef fillet
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 500g watercress
- 12 slices smoked prosciutto
- 500g ready-made puff pastry
- 2 egg yolks
- Plain flour
- 1 tbsp English mustard
- Pat the fillet dry with kitchen paper, then rub all over with 1 tbsp of the vegetable oil and season well with sea salt. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan until smoking hot, then sear the fillet until well-browned on all sides, including the ends. Place the meat in a tray off the heat and brush the beef all over with mustard.
- Tip the watercress into a colander then pour over boiling water to wilt it, then follow with cold water. Squeeze the watercress to extract as much water as possible. Set aside.
- Lay a large piece of cling film on a work service. Lay the prosciutto on the cling film in a row, ensuring all slices overlap with no gaps. Cover the prosciutto with another layer of cling film then use a rolling pin to roll it out to a thin, even layer. Remove the top layer of cling film and scatter the wilted watercress evenly over the prosciutto, then replace the cling film and roll flat again. Remove the top layer of cling film again and sit the beef on top, then use the edge of the cling film to lift and roll the prosciutto and watercress layers to encase the beef in a tight sausage. Place in fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
- Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll the pastry to a rectangle about 8” x 10”. Lightly brush the pastry with beaten egg yolk, then remove the cling film from the beef and place in the centre. Fold the shorter edges over the beef, then roll the whole piece of pastry around the fillet to encase fully. Place the Wellington in the fridge with sealed side down and chill for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Preheat oven to 200°C. Brush the Wellington with egg yolk, then use a sharp knife to gently score a criss-cross pattern all over the top. Sprinkle with sea salt then transfer to a baking tray. Roast for 10 minutes at 200°C, then turn down to 180°C and continue to cook for 25 minutes for rare, 30 minutes for medium rare and 35 minutes for medium. If the pastry begins to darken too much, cover with foil and continue cooking. Remove the Wellington from the oven and leave to rest for a minimum of 15 minutes.
- Cut the Wellington into six generous slices and serve with gravy on the side.
Chestnut and Beetroot Wellingtons with Watercress Pesto
Serves 6 – Prep time: 40 minutes – Cooking time: 1 hour 20 minutes plus 1 hour chill time
- 2 raw beetroot, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks
- 100g whole cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
- ½ a butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1cm chunks
- 1 red onion cut into wedges
- 4 cloves garlic unpeeled
- 6 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp picked thyme leaves, plus extra to finish
- 1 tbsp sumac, plus extra to finish
- 250g cooked puy lentils
- 2 x 320g ready-rolled puff pastry (suitable for vegans)
- 2 tbsp almond milk
For the pesto:
- 100g watercress
- 50g pine nuts, lightly toasted
- Juice of half a lemon
- Preheat the oven to 190°C. Place the beetroot, squash, onion and garlic in a roasting tin with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Scatter over the sumac and thyme and some salt and pepper and toss until the vegetables are well coated.
- Roast for 45 minutes or until the vegetable are tender. Remove the garlic cloves and squeeze out the insides. Add half back to the tray along with the lentils and chopped chestnuts. Mix thoroughly then leave to cool completely.
- While the mixture is cooling, make the pesto. Place the rest of the garlic, lemon juice, watercress, olive oil and pine nuts into a food processor and blend into a thick pesto. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Place the sheets of puff pastry onto a lightly floured surface. Cut each sheet into three to create six sections for the six individual wellingtons. Spread the pesto on one half of each piece of pastry, leaving the other half free of filling so that you can fold it over the top later. Ensure that you leave a gap all around the edge of the pastry so that you can stick the edges together.
- Divide the roasted veg mix between the six pieces, placing on top of the pesto. Brush all the way round the edges of each piece of pastry with almond milk, then fold the plain half of the pastry over the filling. Use a fork to crimp around the edges and seal in the filling, ensuring that no air is trapped inside. Once the edges are crimped, use a sharp knife to trim them back into a neat rectangle shape. Poke a small hole in the top of each wellington to allow any steam to escape during cooking.
- Place the six individual wellingtons on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, cover with clingfilm and chill for at least one hour or preferably overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C. Brush the top of each wellington with a little more almond milk and sprinkle with sumac. Bake for 30 minutes or until piping hot and crisp and golden on the outside. Scatter over some thyme leaves and sea salt and serve