When I think of ingredients that get me truly excited, morel mushrooms are high on the list. I mentioned to a friend that I was going to be crafting a recipe for the 3rd Annual Marx Foods Morel Mushroom Competition, and she asked what I’d do if I won 2 lbs. of fresh morels as the grand prize. I told her I’d probably roll around in them in a giggle fit, I love them so. The little earthy caps of goodness are so worthy of reverence, you can’t help but be overjoyed with the prospect of cooking something incredible with them. They make me want to move to Minnesota, the state that has named the morel as their official mushroom. Of course the morel mushroom has an invite to my party.
Since the chefs in the competition have been tasked to create “an original hors d’oeuvre recipe using dried morels,” I wanted to come up with something worthy of fireworks. I mean, if this dish was to set off my party with a bang and feature the complex flavors of the morel mushroom, it’d need to be amazing. So of course I needed to invite filet mignon to the soiree and some bearnaise to bring it all home. Now we’re talking!
This mini version of beef wellington is elevated to the utmost of decadence with the addition of morel mushrooms. Coupled with melted leeks and a delicate bearnaise soaked up by all the nooks and crannies in the mushrooms, the small bite belies huge flavors. These can be served as small bites (speared with a sprig of rosemary for a fun take on a skewer) or plated with a pool of bearnaise and leeks to attack with a vengeance. Either way, if this is your first bite of the night, know that the tone has been set for a party worth remembering. You should totally come. And bring that Dom P you know I like so much. We’re getting bubbly tonight.
Mini Beef Wellington with Morel Bearnaise and Melted Leeks
2 oz. dried morel mushrooms
2 c. of beef stock
2 c. of water
2 sprigs of tarragon
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup white wine
4 egg yolks
1 stick and 1 tbs. of butter, melted
1/8 tsp of white pepper
salt to taste
4 tbs. of butter
8 oz. of mild flavored mushrooms (oyster, white button, crimini or chanterelle), finely chopped
1/8 tsp. of black pepper
1/4 tsp. of white pepper
1/4 tsp of tarragon
1 tsp. of salt
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only
3 tbs. of butter
1/8 tsp. white pepper
1/8 tsp. of salt
3 filet mignon steaks
1 tbs. dijon mustard
12 slices of pancetta
salt and pepper
1 box of puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
1 tbs. of cream
Prep the Morels
Bring the beef stock and water to a boil. Add morel mushrooms and turn off the heat. Put a lid on the pot and allow the mushrooms to steep in the beef stock for at least a half an hour.
Make the White Wine Reduction
Add the white wine, wine vinegar, shallot and tarragon to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the liquid to about 2-3 tablespoons. Strain mixture and set aside to cool.
Make the Duxelle
Melt butter over low heat in a skillet. When melted, crank up heat to medium and add your chopped shallot and mushrooms. Stir gently to keep from sticking, and keep heat on the low side so as to not color the mushrooms. When veggies are tender, add black pepper, white pepper, tarragon and salt. Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary. Continue to cook over medium low until the mushrooms absorb all of the juices released and the mixture forms a semi-dry paste. Chop half of the morel mushrooms and mix them into the duxelle. Set aside and allow to cool.
Melt the Leeks
Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse thoroughly to remove any dirt or sand. Finely chop the leeks. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the leeks. Cook gently until tender, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Assemble the Wellington
Preheat the oven to 425°. Flour a cutting board and lay out your puff pastry. Flour a rolling pin and roll out sheet into a slightly larger square. Cut into 6 squares and top each one with a slice of pancetta. Spoon a few tablespoons of the mushroom duxelle on top of the pancetta. Cut each of the filets into four cubes and season with coarse salt and cracked pepper. Brush the cut sides with a small amount of dijon mustard and place on top of the duxelle. Top with some more duxelle and bring the corners of the puff pastry together in the center to close up the package. Place the mini wellington seam side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Repeat until all of the cubes have been wrapped. Cut a small cross into the tops of each of the parcels. In a small bowl, beat together the egg and cream. Brush the tops of the puff pastry with the egg wash and sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are golden and lovely. Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Make the Bearnaise
Melt the butter – I like to use a pyrex because it’s easy to pour. Put the 4 egg yolks and vinegar reduction into the blender and mix on low. Slowly stream in half of the melted butter and allow to emulsify. Crank up the speed to high and stream in the rest of the butter. Your sauce will be thick and bright yellow, like a slightly loose mayonnaise. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Chop the rest of the morel mushrooms and fold into the bearnaise, along with half of the leeks. Keep warm until ready to serve.
Plate and Serve
To serve, spread a bit of the bearnaise on the bottom of a plate. Slice one of the wellingtons in half. Mound a small amount of the remaining leeks on the plate and top with a wellington half. Add the morel mushrooms to the side of the wellington and garnish with chives or a rosemary sprig (or both). Call up the crew and kick boredom’s ass with an impromptu party of the most fabulous kind.
If you’d like to serve as a passable appetizer, cut wellingtons into quarters. Spear each quarter with a sprig of rosemary with the leaves removed from the woodier portion of the stem, allowing you to use it as a skewer. Mix all of the leeks into the bearnaise and serve in a bowl on the side for dipping.