I love a wellington… any wellington. They look so impressive but they’re really just pockets you stick things in, heat up and serve. They’re the simplest thing and I wrestled with the idea of posting about them because it’s like admiting the emperor has no clothes. Anyone who may have been impressed or intimidated by my making them will see how simple they are and I’ve lost some power. Be that as it may, here is my shrimp wellington recipe which is one of three I have so far published.
- Salmon (locate in the dinner party link, under ‘wellingtons’)
- Turkey Kielbasa
In this case I added some thick asparagus spears and a béchamel sauce (very easy to make), which I added some tarragon to.
Tarragon is a sweet herb. I do not get it fresh; I like to have it on hand so I get it dried and use it with fish and sometimes chicken. It has to be said, I learned about tarragon a year ago gorging out on vintage Martha Stewart cooking videos.
For this, you won’t need to be Martha Stewart. I have a lot of ways to cut corners.
You will need:
- Shrimp (I get the plump fat juicy ones from Argentina sold frozen at Trader Joes but, any will do)
- Mayo (get real mayo; no chemicals!)
- Dried tarragon
- Dried basil
- Asparagus (I get the kind you can steam in the bag, but get your preference)
- Salt and pepper
- An egg
- Parchment paper
- Pastry Sheets (one box makes four wellingtons)
- A bottle of wine or rolling pin
First thing you’ll want to do is take out your pastry sheet(s). The box will have two separated sheets, making two wellingtons each. Take out what you will need and leave it folded on the counter to defrost. When it’s been about ten mins, check it. May take ten mins, may take twenty but, they will defrost and, if you got frozen shrimp go ahead defrost them too. I was able to put about four per wellington but, they could have held more. Figure out how many you will need based on the amount of people you are serving, and set them aside in a bowl covered all the way with lukewarm water to defrost.
In another bowl, plop (technical term) about a tablespoon per wellington of mayo and then season to taste with salt, pepper and tarragon. Stir. Taste. Take out your spinach, ripping off the hard stems and placing them aside as well. Depending on if you got baby leaf spinach or regular, you will judge how many you can fit pilled on top of your spinach.
Check your puff pastry. If they’re softened, unfold them, remove the paper and get your rolling pin or a bottle of wine. Start to flatten and stretch the pastry so it’s larger by about a third than when you started. Slice down the middle and place your (mostly) defrosted shrimp. Season with basil, salt and pepper.
On top of your shrimp, place your clumps of tarragon mayo and then as much shrimp as you think you can fit with knowing the other part of the pastry sheet is going to be brought up and over the pile to close the wellingtons.
Crack your egg and whisk it, lining the edges of the pastry with the egg wash – then, take your other pasty piece and lift it up and over the spinach. Press down on all sides, tucking under if you need to. Pierce the dough with the tongs of a fork all the way around the closed dough￼ (optimal) but if you can’t, just pinch shut.
Place the wellingtons folded side down on parchment paper on a baking sheet, leaving some space in between them as they’ll puff up in the oven. Coat the tops of the wellingtons with more of the egg wash so they’ll get a gorgeous brown color and, if you want, make a criss cross design on the top, then pierce the tops of the wellingtons with a small knife three times to let some of the steam out while they cook.
I baked these on 400 for 17 mins. I could have chosen 20 and I did but, checking the oven, I saw the brown color I wanted. They don’t need long because they’re just shrimp. If they’re frozen, go a bit longer.
The asparagus just needed to be steamed till the consistency we liked, seasoning with salt and pepper.
The sauce is simple; don’t be intimidated by béchamel. In a sauce pot, put two tablespoons of butter and melt it, then adding the same amount of flour – stir until combined but make sure it doesn’t turn brown while it cooks. It will get very, very thick and a bit crumbly. When this happens, put in 1 1/4 cup of milk. People say to put in heated milk. I’ve let it get to room temp and that worked fine. When you put it in the pot, stir furiously as you do this.
Bring it to boil. Then reduce. It will thicken. Add your salt, pepper and tarragon. Stir more and remove from the heat all together once it’s thickened and you can make a straight line down the middle of a spatula without it running, it’s done.
Plate the wellington and thick asparagus spears with some drizzled sauce and basil or tarragon. If you want to use any left over sauce, just reheat it on the stove adding a little water and stir.
Now you know my biggest trick to impressing someone with these gorgeous warm pockets of food… You￼ may even impress yourself!