Friday, 28 December 2012

Nut Wellington

I used to watch Gordon Ramsay prepare Beef Wellington and almost regret that I was a vegetarian. The succulent center surrounded by flaky pastry was very tempting indeed, and very much not on my menu.

So I developed a vegan pastry and a nut-based filling and gave it a whirl. After my first attempt, which looked more or less like sand falling out of a broken hourglass when I sliced the Wellington, I added the magic ingredient: Marmite. It fixed the Wellington, spawning my belief that whenever in doubt, err on the side of adding Marmite. (It's good for you, too.)

Since a lot of my friends are vegetarian, this has become a staple of our Christmas dinner. Whether you're trying to find a nice vegan roast, or you're just trying to impress your friends, this is a really good way to do it. My omnivore friends are so busy wolfing it down that they fail to notice there's no meat involved.

Mission accomplished.

There are three stages to making Nut Wellington. There's the pastry-making, the filling, and the assembly. I went to my friend Carolyn's house for Christmas and was bringing a couple of servings of Wellington to replace the meat dishes that they'd be eating. Turns out it re-heats like a charm! Carolyn was helping me out in the cooking process, which was a good thing. Nut Wellington is worth every ounce of effort, but it's not a short process, so some good company is in order, where possible.

We started by making the pastry. This one is really simple, with only three ingredients. The first step is to melt the shortening in the boiling water.
This process can take about 5 minutes or so, but is the most important step.
You'll know it's ready for the flour when it becomes slightly thicker and all the lumps are gone.
Once all the shortening melts, you're ready for the flour. Stir it in gently, and only until it's blended. Over-stir your pastry and it will be tough!
The pastry has a funny consistency, but that's OK. You'll throw it in the fridge for an hour and the magic will happen!
Once that's done, you cover and refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, until it's quite cold. If you're using it to make a pie or what have you, it's possible this will just be wait time. In our case, we moved on to the nut filling.

You begin by chopping up the nuts pretty finely in the food processor. I like to make sure there are still some chunks of nut that are about pea-sized, so that there is a nice, crunchy texture.
As you can see, I don't powder the nuts, just make sure that most of them are fine, with some larger chunks.
You don't have to make this in the food processor, though I find it very quick and easy. We mixed the whole thing in there, but if you'd rather do it by hand, you can always do that as well. We put the bread crumb into the food processor, then got the rest of the ingredients ready (including processing the onion to a purée, more or less).
We made a double batch of these yummy loaves, so that we'd have leftovers!
Once it's all mixed up, the mixture looks quite a lot like a nutty pâté, but with the most amazing aroma of turkey stuffing!
Mixing this up in the food processor makes it really fast!
The texture of this should be a thick paste, kind of like a nut pâté.
Once you've got your two parts made, and your pastry has chilled enough, it's ready to assemble your Wellingtons. You start with your pastry, rolling it out to a large rectangle.
This pastry recipe shouldn't work, but it does! Say hello to a flaky, vegan pastry.
Once you've rolled out your pastry, you put a half (or in our case, a quarter, because we doubled it) of the nut mixture in the center. I like to form it into a log and then place it, but probably you could just spoon it on.
This little beauty has been pre-shaped into a log, then placed on the pastry.
You'll then wrap up the Wellington, first pulling up the long sides, then folding the short sides over the ends. You'll have a completely covered log of nutty goodness!
Be sure to cover all of the filling completely when you wrap the Wellington.
You'll place the Wellingtons on your baking pan (preferably with slits, so the oil can drip off), with the seam of the pastry down. Then you brush them with non-dairy milk so that they will brown nicely!
These Wellingtons got an almond milk brush, which will help them brown.
Once baked, these little babies were nice and brown, and very flaky-looking! You can eat them right away with Vegan Gravy, or (as we learned) you can re-heat them later to enjoy!
These are the finished Wellingtons, ready for eating or storage.

Nut Wellington is impressive-looking and also delicious!
Nut Wellington
Makes 2 Wellingtons (each slicing into 6 servings)

For the filling:
1/2 lb mixed nuts
2 T almond meal
2 teaspoons Marmite
1/2 cup boiling water
1 medium onion
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1 T sage leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

For the pastry:
1 cup all-vegetable shortening
1 cup boiling water
2 cups all-purpose flour

For baking:
1 Tablespoon non-dairy milk

To prepare the filling, process mixed nuts in your food processor until they're fine but not powdered. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add onion to food processor and purée. Add onion to mixing bowl, along with bread crumbs, sage, salt and pepper. Mix well. Dissolve Marmite in 1/2 cup boiling water and add to nut mixture, mixing till well blended. The mixture should be something like a thick paste or pâté texture.

To prepare the pastry, place the shortening in a deep mixing bowl that is heat-safe (thick plastic or wood work best). Make sure the water is fully boiled, and then pour over shortening, stirring until the shortening is all melted and mixture is thicker, 3-5 minutes. Gently stir in flour, only mixing until just blended. Cover bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400°F.

To assemble, roll out half the pastry to a rectangle that measures 12" by 8". Using half the nut mixture, put the filling in the middle of the pastry, leaving approximately two inches of space on all four sides of the nut mixture. (This will form an oblong log or pile of nuts.) Roll up the long sides first, creating a log, then fold up the short sides to completely cover the ends of the nut mixture. Press to seal. Place the Wellington, seams down, on a roaster pan with a rack (this helps any excess oil drain off into the lower part of the pan). Repeat with remaining pastry and nut mixture.

Brush the tops of the Wellingtons with milk. Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until pastry is puffy and golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing and serving with vegan gravy. Each Wellington will slice into 6 servings.

1 comment:

  1. made this for christmas dinner yesterday, worked out really well with the gravy!! thanks for the new veggie addition to my repertoire :)

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