Sometimes I get it in my head I was born during the wrong era. I should have been alive during Victorian times, when everyone ate abundantly (well, the wealthy did anyway – which I would obviously be in this fantasy), wrote long loving poetry and took walks with parasols. They’d paint mindlessly, gossip and drink tea before falling asleep on a blanket in some field. Then you read about the fainting from corsets and the bad breath and body odor… And I decide I can have the best of that world in this one. I try to do what I can to create the ambiance while also bathing.
To that point, I make a lot of wellingtons. Salmon, shrimp and kielbasa are all on the menu, all of the time. My husband prefers the salmon ones, presumably because he assumes the salmon will be healthier, but let’s face facts: this is a decadent meal no matter how you play it. It’s flaky but dense with a warm savory inside, downed with some delicious full-bodied wine. The sides are usually just as fabulous and typically have some starchy component. So, I try to only make these once and a while.
This evening, I had decided I wanted to use some of the turkey kielbasa I had in the fridge and thought of all the things I could do with it, why not package it up in some puff pastry and serve it over some china. A normal Tuesday.
You will need:
- Jenni-o Turkey Kielbasa (I prefer this brand as it’s a bit healthier and widely available)
- Parchment paper
- Tarragon, dried
- Puff pastry
- Potatoes (this meal would work with any potato except for a russet; you need something starchier. I used yellow potatoes)
- Sesame seed oil
- Salt and Pepper (we use smoked sea salt)
- Minced garlic
- Rosemary, dried or fresh
- Brussel sprouts (I get them frozen so they’re already trimmed and prepped)
- Grated parmesan (optional)
- One egg
The first thing I do when I decide that I’m making a wellington, is get out the box of puff pastry. It is kept in the freezer and comes in a package of two. Take out one of the two and lay it out without unfolding it. Some people leave it cold when they use it but, I like it more pliable and I like the way it tastes when it’s defrosted and then baked. While it’s out defrosting, take your kielbasa and pull it open using the tab it provides. Take a knife and cut it down the middle making two pieces. Buy two pieces I mean cutting in half the top section where it’s connected. Put the one piece in a container and keep it in your fridge to use with something else. This is in the case you need to make about three wellingtons. If you want to make more, you will need to use the whole kielbasa and both puff pastry packages.
In a separate bowl, go ahead and put some mayo and dried tarragon. Taste it and see if you want to add more tarragon. We love it and it works so well with the smoky kielbasa. If you’ve never had tarragon, it’s a sweeter herb usually put with poultry but also with fish. I think it compliments the tang in the mayo and the smoky seasoning in the sausage.
Roll out the dough as much as you can, making it wide and thinner. Then, cut it into three even strips, trimming the sides.
Cut each third in half and start building your wellington, starting with the meat. I used six pieces of sausage for each wellington, then topped the pieces with the tarragon mayo and finished with spinach leaves. As many as can fit without toppling over. Take off any hard stems so they don’t cut or poke through the pastry. A lot of times, you will see a mushroom onion mix with wellingtons, and they would be perfect with this.
We didn’t have either but, feel free to add them to your list. I recommend sweet onion. Otherwise, it’s really unneeded. These are fantastic on their own with just the tangy tarragon sauce and spinach.
In another bowl, crack an egg and whisk after adding some water. You will use this as an egg-wash to seal the edges of the pastry. Also not needed but it does add some security in the sealing.
Take the top piece of pastry and place it on the package and seal it after using the egg wash all the way around, by pushing either your fingers or the tongs of a fork. Then, slice some slits in the top to let the steam out.
Make the rest of your wellingtons and place them on a baking sheet over some parchment paper.
Use the egg wash and paint each wellington and then place them in the fridge while you cook your vegetables. This keeps the pastry from continuing to soften being out in “the elements”.
If you got frozen brussel sprouts, you will have read this ahead of time and defrosted them while you were defrosting your puff pastry. I do this by placing them in a small colander over a bowl. When ready, whether defrosted or fresh (if fresh, trim the hard stem bits), you will slice them down the middle and then stick them in a pot over medium heat with olive oil and minced garlic. Cut your potatoes to around the same size as the brussel sprouts and stir it all with some rosemary, salt and pepper.
Place a few handfuls of spinach into the pot as well and stir everything.
It will cook down considerably and the moisture from the spinach will help to steam the vegetables. When you notice things are starting to soften up, lower the heat and place the lid partially on. When ready to cook your wellington, especially if you cooked your vegetables in a pot like mine, you will turn off your heat completely, stir in your grated parmesan and leave the lid on. This will keep the heat in just fine.
When you’re going to serve your dinner (or lunch, why not), take your wellingtons out of the fridge and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cook them at 22-25 minutes. I have cooked them for only 20 minutes before… It depends on how dark I want them and for you, if you have a convection oven or standard. Just keep and eye on them at the 20 min mark. They won’t explode or spill so long as you pinch the edges and make slits in the top. What you’re watching out for is how dark they are getting; you don’t want anything to burn.
For the sauce used under the wellington, make your mayo and tarragon again (or use what is leftover) this time adding sesame seed oil. Sesame seed oil is just as good for you as olive oil but it has a very nutty taste which is fabulous with the tarragon. Stir it and place it on the side of the plate. The wellington on top of that, and vegetables on the side of everything.
I had fresh basil and put that on the plate. You could put parsley, more spinach or, if you decided to get fresh rosemary, use sprigs of that.
You will see in the pictures below, additional crackers. These are my parmesan crisps. They are literally grated parmesan in one tablespoon scoops cooked at 350 for 14-15 mins on parchment paper. Left out to cool and harden. They are the most fantastic salty chip, you have no idea. Thick and hard enough to place something on, but I preferred in this instance to place them on the side in a small bowl.
My husband is not one for poetry. I love it, I used to write it all the time… We both appreciate bone china and silver. Recipes that feel old and gossip (who doesn’t). Deep red wines and abundance. If I try hard enough, I can pretend I am in a castle somewhere in Ireland with rolling hills and fresh goat cheese.
In the meantime, I can just serve this dish and play some old movie that makes my husband’s eyes roll and my imagination wander to easier times I will never know and only dream about.
And drink wine that cures anything and everything that ails us.
Below, you will find the table setting for this meal: Bone china is from Wedgewood. Silverware is Napoleon Bee. Napkins are from Williams Sonoma. Table runner and napkin holder are from Pier 1. Glasses are Riedel. Silver is family heirloom.