Fillet of beef in prosciutto and wild mushrooms
It’s beginning to feel a lot like, well, you know, that time of year when you’re running out of party outfits! (If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past couple of weeks, between festive soirées, work parties, and family dinners, it’s that there are virtually infinite ways to style a Little Black Dress!) Just like there are virtually infinite alternatives to turkey for your Christmas dinner centrepiece.
So my other half’s family came up to see us for the holidays (they’ll be spending Christmas abroad this year), so we had a lovely ‘pre-Christmas’ family Christmas weekend. And of course, as I went all out with the decs and festive cheer (no surprise there!), I wanted to cook something equally cheerful and impressive. So this fillet of beef in prosciutto and wild mushrooms recipe made for the perfect Christmas dinner alternative.
File under ‘showstopper’, somewhere between roast turkey and beef Wellington. It’s every bit as indulgent and festive as a traditional turkey roast, but doesn’t take all day to cook. And it’s quite similar to beef Wellington, but easier to prepare, and just as impressive.
15g dried mixed wild mushrooms
250g button chestnut mushrooms, finely chopped
20g unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp thyme leaves
3 tbsp single cream
10 pitted black olives, sliced
2 tbsp chopped parsley
500g piece of lean Scotch beef fillet (middle cut)
8 slices Parma ham (prosciutto) or 1 x 90g pack sliced prosciutto
Start by soaking the dried mushrooms in warm water for about 20 minutes. But do make sure the water is not boiling or even hot, this way the mushrooms hang on to their flavour more. Drain, squeeze out any moisture, and finely chop them.
Now grab a broad based pan, heat the butter and oil and soften the shallots and garlic over gentle heat, until transparent but not brown (around 5 minutes). Add the chopped mushrooms, increase the heat just a wee bit and fry until all the moisture is evaporated. Season with salt and pepper (be generous, I think mine could have done with a little extra!), add the thyme leaves and cream, stir and remove from the heat.
And here comes the tricky part. Heat the oven at 190°C/170°C fan. Oil a sheet of baking paper to make a prosciutto blanket that will wrap around the beef. Deep breath in. You can do this (you must do this, Christmas depends upon it, no pressure!). In all seriousness though, this part is a little delicate, so take your time to do it right. Lay the slices, 2 across and 4 down (you may find that, like me, you might need more slices, it all depends on the size of your beef fillet). Because prosciutto is so delicate, be careful to pick up each slice along with the plastic sheet on the back, lay it face down on the baking parchment, and then remove the plastic – this way it doesn’t crinkle and your prosciutto blanket is nice and neat.
Place the beef at one side of the blanket, and with the help of the paper, roll up until you cover the whole fillet. Remove the baking paper and ta-dah! Introducing the world’s meatiest, most delicately wrapped Christmas parcel!
Now place the meat in the oven for 30-40 minutes for a medium-rare result. Let it rest for 10 minutes, and take another minute to admire it in its full festive glory, and give yourself a pat on the back!