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Beef Wellington

3 1/2 pound fillet of beef tied with thin sheets of larding fat at room temp
3/4 pound mushrooms, chopped fine
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 pound pate de foie gras (available at specialty food shops) at room temp
1 pound puff paste or thawed frozen puff pastry plus additional for garnish
1 large egg white, beaten

an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup Sercial Madeira
2 teaspoons arrowroot dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
1/2 cup beef broth
2 tablespoons finely chopped black truffles, if desired
watercress for garnish if desired

In a roasting pan roast the beef in the middle of a preheated 400
F. oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers
120 Let the fillet cool completely and discard the larding fat and
the strings. Skim the fat from the pan juices and reserve the pan
juices. In a heavy skillet cook the mushrooms in the butter over
moderately low heat, stirring, until all the liquid they give off
is evaporated and the mixture is dry, season them with salt and
pepper, and let them dry completely.

Spread the fillet evenly with the pate de foie gras, covering the
top and sides, and spread the mushrooms evenly over the pate de
foie gras. On a floured surface roll 1 pound of the puff paste
into a rectangle about 20 by 12 inches, or large enough to enclose
the fillet completely, invert the coated fillet onto the middle of
the dough, and fold up the long sides of the dough to enclose the
fillet, brushing the edges of the dough with some of the egg white
to seal them. Folt the ends of the dough over the fillet and seal
them with the remaining egg white. Transfer the fillet, seam side
down, to a jelly roll pan or shallow roasting pan and brush the
dough with some of the egg wash. Roll out the additional dough
and cut out shapes with decorative cutters. Arrange the cutouts
on the dough decoratively, brush them with the remaining egg wash,
and chill the fillet for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours. Bake
the fillet in the middle of a preheated 400 F. oven for 30 minutes,
reduce the heat to 350 F. and bake the fillet for 5 to 10 minutes
more, or until a meat thermometer registers 130 F. for medium rare
meat and the pastry is cooked through. Let the fillet stand for
15 minutes.

In a saucepan boil the reserved pan juices and the Madeira until
the mixture is reduced by one fourth. Add the arrowroot mixture,
the broth, the truffles, and salt and pepper to taste and cook the
sauce over moderate heat, stirring, being careful not to let it
boil, for 5 minutes, or until it is thickened.

Loosen the fillet from the pan, transfer it with 2 spatulas to a
heated platter, and garnish it with the watercress. Serve the
fillet, cut into 3/4 inch slices, with the sauce. Serves 8.


PUFF PASTE

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 3/4 sticks (1 cup plus 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt

In a bowl combine 2 cups of the flour, 4 tablespoons of the butter,
cut into bits, and the salt and blend the mixture until it resembles
meal. Stir in 1/3 cup ice water and, if necessary, continue to
add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the mixture forms a soft
dough. Gather the dough into a ball, form it into a 5 inch square,
and dust it lightly with flour. Chill the dough, wrapped in wax
paper, for 30 minutes, or until it is firm but not hard.

In a bowl combine the remaining 2 1/4 sticks butter, cut into bits,
with the remaining 1/4 cup flour and toss the mixture to coat the
butter with the flour. Knead the butter and the flour together
and form the mixture into a rough square. Put the square between
sheets of wax paper and with a rolling pin press it into a 5 inch
square. Remove the paper, dust the square well with flour, and
wrap it in another sheet of wax paper. Chill the butter mixture
until it is firm but not hard. (The dough and the butter should
be of equal firmness.)

Roll the dough into an 8 inch square on a floured surface. Lay
the butter diagonally in the center of the square and roll the four
visible corners of the dough into 6 inch strips. (The dough will
form an X around the butter.) Fold each strip of dough over the
butter to enclose the butter completely and turn the dough over,
sprinkling the work surface and the dough with flour. With the
rolling pin flatten the dough with uniform impressions and roll it
into a 12 by 6 inch rectangle. Turn the dough over, brush off any
excess flour, and fold the top third of the rectangle over the
center and the bottom third over the top, forming a rectangle about
6 by 4 inches.

Turn the folded dough seam side down so that an open end faces you.
With the rolling pin flatten the dough with uniform impressions.
Roll the dough from the center away from you to within 1/2 inch of
the end. Flatten the ends gently with uniform impressions but do
not roll the pin over the ends ot the air and butter will be
expelled. Reverse the strip on the surface, flouring the surface
as necessary, and again roll the dough from the center away from
you to make a rectangle about 12 inches long. Turn the dough seam
side up, brush any excess flour from it, and fold the rectangle in
thirds as before. This completes 2 "turns." Chill the dough,
wrapped in plastic, for at least 3 hours and up to 3 days.

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