This post is part of the Doughvember series. Read on, for the giveaway of the week. In case you’re not caught up, Nicole from Pinch My Salt and I are raising awareness about sourdough baking throughout the month of November. If you want to participate, either make a starter (use Nicole’s handy instructions!) or revive your starter, and post, tweet or otherwise fling sourdough from the rooftops. If you’re the posse type, @ me on twitter and I’ll add you to the @saltyseattle/doughvember list. We’re using the hashtag #doughvember to aggregate our doughy coterie.
This dish is like Beef Wellington meets the Little House on the Prairie. Beef Wellington, in case the annals of history escape you at the moment, is that once-popular-amongst-the-1960’s-housewife-set-entree consisting of beef tenderloin coated in foie gras pate and mushrooms, then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. It seems to have fallen by the wayside just like all the good things about the 60’s that deserve reviving: bullet bra’s, Mad Men-style mid-day drinking, and Lilly Ann coats.
But like those things, we should bring it back with a little modernization, and nobody knows modern like Laura Ingalls. That may seem to make little sense, but bear with me. Sourdough baking is something Ma and Laura Ingalls totally mastered back on the pioneer prairie. The proof:
“But how do you make the sour dough?” Mrs. Boast asked. “You start it,” said Ma, “by putting some flour and warm water in a jar and letting it stand till it sours.” “Then when you use it, always leave a little,” said Laura. “And put in the scraps of biscuit dough, like this, and more warm water.” Laura put in the warm water, “and cover it,” she put a clean cloth and the plate on the jar, “and just set it in a warm place,” she set it in its place on the shelf by the stove. “And it’s always ready to use whenever you want it.” ~ By the Shores of Silver Lake
So here’s the thing-the 1960’s popularized Beef Wellington, whereas the Ingall’s family got down with their bad selves and participated in doughvember all year long. It’s only fitting that the 2010’s should see a marriage of the two as the ultimate homage to cookery history in a pioneering, revolutionary way.
It’s also a deceptively-easy showstopper. All I did was sear an herb-coated roast of tenderloin on all sides, wrap it in comte cheese, then cook it in a blanket of sourdough. The result is succulent, juicy filet with built-in bread to sop up all the unctuous goo from the cheese and jus.
One thing I’m noticing the more I sourdough bake is that the livelier my starter, the better the air pockets in the resulting bread. I can also get by with slightly less rising time if my starter is bubbling off the walls, which she does frequently. Just yesterday I caught her doing this:
So I sent out this tweet with the picture:
“A happy sourdough starter is like a horny teenager: it just can’t help blowing its wad #doughvember”
What? It’s true!
I’ve played around feeding my starter different dough and different water. Sometimes I’ve used Seattle tap water, but most often I use filtered water. This, as you can imagine, has led me to go through a lot of water. I lug home five-gallon jugs from Whole Foods, and since I’ve become an avid sourdough baker, my back has started to bow from the added weight of more water. Until I discovered the Mavea filtration system. It’s like a Brita in the sense that you fill a pitcher with tap water and undergoes a process of filtration. I never liked Brita filters, however, because I could always taste the chalkiness and original impurities of the water. I like my water to taste like nothing. So does my sourdough starter. The Mavea does the best job of removing that residual taste of any after-market filtration device. The voracious health of my sourdough starter proves it.
I can’t just talk something up without letting you in on the fun, however, so I’m going to give you the chance to win a Mavea for yourself. If you want one, say so in the comments below. You’ll get an extra entry for tweeting this post and commenting that you did so. You’ll also get extra points for mentioning Mavea on twitter. Their handle is @inspiredwater. I will choose the winner of the Mavea filter (using random.org) Monday, November 14th at 4:00pm PST, so you have until the same day at 3:00pm PST to enter.
If you’re looking for an easy holiday entrée that will wow your guests without taking up hours of active time, look no further. I served the sourdough Wellington with port-fig compound butter because meat wrapped in cheese wrapped in bread somehow deserved an extra dollop of decadence. Enjoy the recipe, and by all means, please share your doughvember adventures with Nicole and I over the course of the month.
Sourdough-Comte Beef Wellington with Port-Fig Compound Butter
Serves 4 (very amply)
For the dough:
- 200 grams 100% hydration sourdough starter
- 400 grams Italian tipo 00 flour
- 200 grams French T65 flour or whole wheat flour
- 400 grams water
- 1 tbsp vital wheat gluten
- ¼ c nonfat dry milk powder
- 15 grams sea salt
For the beef:
- 1- two pound beef tenderloin from the small end, consistent in width throughout
- 2 tsp dry mustard
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- ¼ c assorted fresh herbs (such as thyme, bay leaf, oregano, basil, savory, or parsley)
- Cooking spray
- ½ lb comte cheese, thinly-sliced
For the compound butter:
- 5 figs, quartered
- ¼ c tawny port
- 1 stick, 8 tbsp butter- use very high quality such as Kerrygold or Lurpak
For the dough:
- Place all ingredients except salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until just combined, then let sit for 20 minutes. Add the salt and knead for five minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and rest at room temperature for one hour.
- Knead the dough with dough hook attachment for one minute. Allow to sit again at room temperature for an additional hour.
- Place in refrigerator and rest overnight.
- Remove dough from fridge and let sit at room temperature until warm. Knead with dough hook for one minute. Allow to sit at room temp for an additional hour. Knead again for one minute.
- In a warm place, turn dough out onto floured surface and cover with a tea towel. Let rise for 1-2 hours. Meanwhile prepare the filet.
For the filet:
- Unwrap and pat dry the tenderloin. Combine all spices in spice grinder and grind for 30 seconds. Rub the filet all over with the spice mixture, then sear in an extremely hot skillet for one minute on each side, or until well-browned.
- Allow the steak to cool while you slice the cheese into thins.
- Once the steak is cooled, spread the rising dough out onto the counter, making it just large enough to accommodate the tenderloin. Lay strips of cheese directly onto the dough where the meat will eventually sit. Place the meat on top of the dough and cover it in the remaining cheese. Bring the dough up around the tenderloin and seal it as you would a package. Turn it over onto a baking sheet so that the seam side is down.
- Allow to rise at room temperature for an additional hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Brush the meat package with egg wash and bake for 30 minutes for medium-rare. Alternatively, you can use a probe thermometer to gauge the level of doneness of the meat.
For the compound butter:
- In a small saucepan, simmer the port and figs until the figs disintegrate and the port is reduced by 1/3. Place the port, figs and softened butter in the cup of an immersion blender and blend until smooth. Spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate until hardened. Using a round or fluted cutter, cut shapes in the hardened butter and place pats of butter on the sliced pieces of tenderloin.