Friday, May 15, 2009

Compare and Contrast

And now for something completely different. My usual process involves taking some left-overs and doing bad bad things to them in the name of snacks. Not this time. Instead, I thought that I would play it straight. I'll take a regular old recipe and prepare it in the way it was intended. No tricks, no gimmicks. Just plain old cooking.

Well, not exactly. See, I still have to work within my own constraints here. It's still 2 in the morning, and I didn't exactly go shopping first. No matter. Maximizing the effects of the ingredients you have via substitution and adaption is the mark of a good chef, right? We'll call this crime recipe abuse.

Case the Seventh: The Unwellington

I have always wanted to make/eat a Beef Wellington. You may be familiar with it from Hell's Kitchen. If not, the basic idea is to take a delicious steak (good start), season it (awesome), apply some kind of paste to it (I like where this is going), and finally wrap the whole damn thing up in pastry and bake it (what could go wrong?). Looking around for a recipie, I stumbled upon something even better! I found an illustrated guide to making a beef wellington. Step by step instructions with pictures included. This is going to be cake.

Step 1:

Man, that looks good. Why it was necessary to give it the ol' stab-n-tie, I'm not sure.
Ok, our first problem. The instructions call for "Filets 1 inch thick". I don't have those. I don't even have filets at all. Or steak of any kind. Or chicken or turkey or any kind of beef. I don't even have some kind of meaty-fish. Never fear though, adapt!

Caution: Items may be more inedible and mealy than they appear.
Ok, there we go. Got my meat all squared away. Awesome, 1/7 done. This is so easy!

Step 2:

This appears to be browning on the top of a pot lid filled with Kool-Aid. Oh Yeah?
So, step two is to brown them filets. This process is shown above entirely more complicated than necessary. Basically, it goes like this: Turn on pan, toss raw meat in pan. Is it brown? Yes? Ok, flip it. Is it brown? Yes? Congratulations. You don't need to take it's temperature, for god's sake. Brown = Done, Not Brown = ...Not Done. It's pretty irrelevant either way, since my meat is a frozen blockasteak. So, I 'browned' it in the microwave, as the box suggested.

The meat is on the, right. Look how brown it is. I'm so good at this.
We are moving at some kind of hyper speed through this. I'm agog.

Step 3:

1: Get sand 2: Wrap white rag around sand 3: See how brown the sand made that rag? 4: That's good sand!
Step 3 is grandiosely entitled 'Prepare the Duxelles". Now, I don't know why the word 'duxelle' is plural there. Technically, nor do I in fact know what the word 'duxelle' means. The description calls for mushrooms, which I detest (and also do not have). So, time to adapt again! My paste is made of chopped chili peppers and sun dried tomatoes. The peppers are to add a flavor to the dish (the first thus far). The tomatoes are there because I like them.

Shown: peppers and tomatoes. Not Shown: The peppers that ended up right in my eyes (burning)
Consider my duxelle prepared.

Step 4:

1: What is it with this sand? 2: Meat on Sand on Cross on Wood
This step invloves laying out the pastry, and then assembling the Wellington. I don't have puff pastry (not that I have any kind of ideological objection, it just doesn't store well). I do have however, packaged three cheese biscuit mix. I'll just add a little flour to stiffen it up, and we're good to go.

This is what pizza looks like in Hell
Step 5:

Is that Beef Moon Waxing or Waning? Whichever is more delicious.
Some nonsense about trimming the pastry. I skipped it. Advantage: me.

Step 6:

1: Fold it over. 2: Fold it over (more) 3: Continuing Folding 4: Add triangles
This is a crucial step. The pastry must be carefully folded over your beef-paste mixture. You don't want to handle the puff pastry too much, or you will inhibit its...puffiness? This could take several minutes to do right apparently. In my version, I just glom-ed the edges together. I tore a hole clear through it, but just kind of mushed it closed. Advantage: me.

There could be anything in there. I'm going to pretend it's treasure.
Step 7:

This step should be called: Eat it up, Yum Yum
I'll reproduce the final instructions exactly:
Bake for 30 minutes and serve. Beef Wellington deserves it's reputation. It's both elegant, delicious, and can be completely prepped short of the final baking a day in advance; perfect for any special occasion.

Here is what I actually did:
Bake for like 107 minutes and serve. If this kidney looking gross had a reputation, I'm quite sure it would totally deserve it. It was both sickeningly brownish, raw on the bottom, and should never be prepped by anyone on any day; perfect only for dogs and your enemies.

Shown with Macaroni Majesty
Our guide finished his with some svelte asparagus. I used mashed potatoes (made from real potatoes, yo). Then I took the included macaroni and cheese and deep fried it into little taste-wads.

Ease: D- (Seven steps? Are you kidding me? That's about five too many steps)
Flavor: Double Eff (Wow, this tasted bad. Like, the kind of bad that's hard to imagine. As if each part of it had its own terrible taste, that when combined created some kind of meta-yurk. The little macaroni things were very very good though.)
Criminality: A+ (This was so wrong that I almost felt bad about it. Then again, I actually ate it, so that might be the source of the bad feeling.)

PS- Thanks to Kevin D. Weeks, who's creation I abused herein.

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