Pork Wellington

June 8, 2009 · 4 comments

This happens to me sometimes: I buy some meat with the vague notion “I’ll cook something with it,” which is then followed by an episode of Good Eats addressing my purchase. In this case it was pork tenderloin (on sale, 50% off) and the “Tender is the Pork” episode, which featured preparations for grilled pork tenderloin and Pork Wellington.

I have never attempted the original beef version attributed to Arthur Wellesley, inventor of the waterproof boot and vanquisher of Napoleon at Waterloo (note the cunning display of recently acquired London knowledge), because it’s heavy, expensive, and prone to mishaps. But a pork version wouldn’t set me back too much if I failed, and it took less than an hour to prepare.

I started with two pork tenderloins, 6 ounces of prosciutto (the Canadian stuff — it would be a crime to cook the good Italian variety from Parma), fresh thyme, mustard, dried apple rings, and frozen puff pastry.

Mise en place

I left one sheet of the puff pastry out to thaw under a clean towel, then set the oven to 400°F. As it warmed up I turned my attention to prepping the tenderloins.

Untrimmed tenderloins

The recipe only requires one tenderloin, but since they’re always packaged in pairs, I figured I’d trim them both and save one for grilling later in the week. Notice the white sheath at the fat end of the muscle: that’s the inedible silverskin, and must be trimmed off with a sharp knife.

Trimmed tenderloins

Once trimmed, I wrapped one up and returned it to the fridge, the other I split in half lengthwise.

I minced enough fresh thyme to make a generous teaspoon, and pulsed an ounce of the dried apples in a food processor until they reached a medium dice.

Chopped and minced

Then I laid out the slices of prosciutto, overlapping the edges slightly to create a uniform layer as wide as the length of the tenderloin. I flattened the slices with a rolling pin, then seasoned them with the minced thyme and salt and pepper (instead of plain salt, I used some thyme & fennel fleur de sel for an extra flavor boost).

Prosciutto layer

I laid the tenderloin halves across the middle of the prosciutto, making sure to flip one of the halves so that each thin end matched with a thick end — thus ensuring an even thickness. I filled the gap between the halves with the diced apples.

Tenderloin halves and apples

Using the parchment paper as a guide, I rolled the prosciutto tightly around the tenderloin halves, finishing with the seam on the bottom.

Rolled in prosciutto

I rolled out the now-thawed puff pastry into a 12 by 14 inch rectangle, and spread a tablespoon of mustard across the center. The recipe calls for whole grain mustard, but I only had Dijon, which worked just as well.

Pastry and mustard

I placed the prosciutto/tenderloin roll over the mustard, then folded the pastry over the top. I spread some egg wash (one egg beaten with a tablespoon of water) over the exposed edge before rolling up the package.

Egg wash seal

I placed the pastry bundle on a parchment-lines sheet pan, seam side down, tucked the ends under and pinched them closed, the covered it all with more egg wash. It went into the oven for 25-30 minues, until golden brown.

Out of the oven

After a ten minute rest, I sliced the wellington into inch-thick portions and served them with wilted garlic spinach.

Final plate

How did it taste? The dish merged all of the flavors that traditionally accompany pork: apples, mustard, and thyme. The prosciutto added a salty, earthy depth to the sweet, barely pink pork. The crust was still crisp on the outside, but chewy — not soggy — on the inside.

I served a Ravenswood 2002 Napa Valley zinfandel with the pork. Its astringency worked well to cut through some of the richness of the dish.

Wine

It occurred to me as I was eating the wellington that this was the second dish in a row I cooked that involved wrapping pork in cured pork (see also here). Maybe I’ll make them both at the same time, wrapping the Bacon Explosion in a fast Bisquik crust (or better, some Pilsbury biscuit dough), and let my guests decide which they prefer.

4 comments

Kurt June 9, 2009 at 12:31 am

Cunning stunt, in your second paragraph.

I’ll have to make an attempt now, after all the Ramsey Wellington rants I’ve seen.

David June 9, 2009 at 9:33 am

Once you abandon the idea of using pate or mushroom duxelles – required for the beef version – the pork variation is a snap.

I did my Ramsay impression while I cooked: “Oh, fucking hell, you burned the bottom! It’s stone cold! It’s bloody raw inside! Bin it!”

Robert June 10, 2009 at 6:42 pm

well, I tried this with some biscuit dough…it doesn’t work. The dough rises too quickly and the meat doesn’t have time to cook.

David June 10, 2009 at 7:14 pm

I think you misunderstood me. You have to use puff pastry for the Wellington. I was suggesting that biscuit dough could be wrapped around a fully cooked (3 hours on the smoker) Bacon Explosion and given a quick blast in the oven.

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