Day 4, Holy Island Trip, mid-August, 2014
Wine in the Mouth, Love in the Eye
Beef Wellington Crust

      Love comes in at the mouth
      And wine comes in at the eye;
      That's all we shall know for truth
      Before we grow old and die.
      I lift the glass to my eye,
      I lick you, and I sigh.
William Butler Yeats
Or words to that effect.

Another short stay in Eyemouth. This one not short enough, however.

We planned a simple overnight visit - in and out on our way to Lindisfarne, but the sea had other ideas. It rose into mighty crests which burst heavily into the harbour entrance for two days preventing us from leaving. We were particularly put off by the sight of a trawler being almost rolled onto the beach by an enormous wave which broke across it as it cockily put out to sea.

Then just when we thought it was finally safe to leave and made our way out through the swell, a series of massive waves rolled in at just the wrong moment pitching our boat so much that our companions still ashore claimed they could see our propeller!
We did get down to Holy Island for a day though. A very nice day too, so it all worked out.

To sustain us during our elongated stopover, and compensate for our persistent failure to book ourselves a table at the fabulous Churches seafood restaurant, I made the most ridiculous ship-board meal I could think of for our last dinner - a beef wellington!
Bet you haven't had that on a boat before?

Eyemouths lamentable lack of digestible restaurants is easily matched by its dearth of food shops. It does boast a decent butcher (yep, just the one), who also grows potted herbs out back and is happy to hand a few over with your surprisingly expensive order of meat. I don't imagine the local demand is large.
Otherwise there is a fantastic baker, a greengrocer with unfathomable opening hours that I assume exclude any daylight, and the standard Local Fucking Supermarkets™.
One of which did, in fact, stock a fresh herb. It was coriander. I did visit them on a Tuesday, so perhaps they stock a different herb on other days. Thank God for the butchers eh?

Beef Wellington
meat main nautical
I loosely based my Wellington on a couple of Gordon Ramsay versions adapted from his Sunday Lunch. You could try substituting (or adding to) the mushrooms duxelles with duck or chicken liver paté or with some blanched spinach a la James Martin. Or even foie gras. But do bear in mind that the beef fillet, for which you will have paid around £35 if you went to the same butcher I did, ought to be the unchallenged centrepiece of the dish.

The idea of the ham (or prosciutto) is to protect the pastry from the moisture cooked out of the meat. I'm not convinced it works, since the bottom of my pastry was still deliciously soggy, and possibly the ham detracts slightly from the beefy goodness?
Crêpes are also traditionally employed to this end, apparently with equally unconvincing results.
Serious Eats suggests wrapping in filo pastry, which seems like a better idea, though it's quite tricky if the filo is a bit dried out and flaky. I recently tried this with a Local Fucking Supermarket™ rolled roasting joint instead of fillet. I started the roasting at Gas Mark 7, but turned the joint down to Gas 4 and cooked it for longer than usual (2½ hours) to make sure the meat would tenderise. The joint actually cooked pretty well, ending up nice and tender, though decidedly overcooked for my taste. Unfortunately the outer puff pastry was dry and overdone, and the ham, as last time, was very hard in places and didn't seem to integrate into the whole. I used Serrano ham again, but perhaps a softer ham like Parma might work better?
Anyway, next time I think I might consider just wrapping the mustard-coated meat in mushroom duxelles and filo pastry, before the final puff layer. Forget the ham.

Cava bottles do not make good rolling pins due to their conical shape - be sure to have a few straight beer or wine bottles to drink onboard too.

Broccoli in soy sauce goes well as a side dish, as does spinach. It's also good to have some kind of liquid to pour over the beef - you can deqlaze the frying pan with wine or madeira to make a quick sauce, or you could use the buttery stock from pressure-cooked potatoes

Serves 6

Heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6

Heat a frying pan. Season the beef and rub all over with a little olive oil. Sear in the hot pan for 30 secs only on each side not forgetting the ends. (You don't want to cook it at this stage, just colour it.) Remove the beef from the pan and leave to cool, then brush all over with the mustard.

While the beef is cooling, chop the mushrooms as finely as possible so they have the texture of coarse breadcrumbs. You can use a food processor to do this, but make sure you pulse-chop the mushrooms so they don't become a slurry.
I found this rather difficult to do onboard without a large enough chopping board or a chef's knife, not to mention the food processor. I did manage to roughly purée the mushrooms after cooking by crushing them with a serrated knife blade though. Enough to hold them together anyway.

Heat 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 50g butter in a large pan and fry the mushrooms on a medium heat, with 1 large sprig fresh thyme, for about 10 mins stirring often, until you have a softened mixture. Throw in a little minced garlic and/or shallots at the end if you like. (Lightly) Season the mushroom mixture, pour over 100ml Cava dry white wine/brandy/Madeira even cream and cook for about 10 mins until all the wine has been absorbed. The mixture should hold its shape when stirred. Cooking in a little thick cream at the end to helps the mixture cohere, and a (small) splash of soy sauce adds depth of flavour. Remove the mushroom duxelle from the pan to cool and discard the thyme.

Lay a sheet of cling film on a work surface and arrange the Parma ham slices on it, in slightly overlapping rows. With a palette knife, spread the mushroom paste over the ham, then place the seared beef fillet in the middle. Keeping a tight hold of the cling film from the edge, neatly roll the Parma ham and mushrooms around the beef to form a tight barrel shape. Twist the ends of the cling film to secure. Chill for 15-20 mins to allow the beef to set and keep its shape.

Using a beer bottle or a rolling pin roll out the puff pastry on a floured surface to a large rectangle, the thickness of a 1 coin. Remove the cling film from the beef, then lay in the centre. Brush the surrounding pastry with 2 egg yolks beaten with 1 tsp water. Fold the ends over, the wrap the pastry around the beef, cutting off any excess. Turn over, so the seam is underneath, and place on a baking sheet. Brush over all the pastry with egg and chill for about 15 mins to let the pastry rest.

Lightly don't cut right through score the pastry at 1cm intervals and glaze again with beaten egg yolk. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and crisp don't let it darken too much at this stage, then lower the oven setting to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 and cook for another 20-15 mins.
I cooked mine 35 minutes in total, and it was just damned perfect, though I say so myself.

Allow to rest for 10-15 mins before slicing thickly and serving with the accompaniments. The beef should still be pink in the centre when you serve it.
Yes. Yes it should!

Quite delicious.
The pastry at the bottom does go somewhat soggy, but I don't have a problem with that.
You want the beef to come out just nicely pink, so you'd be best to use a meat thermometer to take out the guesswork. Unless you're always as lucky with your timing as I was.
It's also good to have a little gravy or jus to moisten the slices slightly.

Pressure Cooked Potatoes with Parsley Butter
veg staple nautical
A quick and easy way to cook potatoes that also gives you a bit of sauce to work with. Would work similarly with other root vegetables - carrots, say.

I used the same technique to cook spicey potatoes for a curry too - browning the potoates first in a little oil flavoured with ground black pepper and red chilli flakes hey you work with what you've got, then throwing in some garlic and a crumbled oxo cube before moistening with a little water.
Well, Anne liked them.

Clean or peel the potatoes and cut into chunks if large.
Mash the stock cube with about a cup of water in the pressure cooker, add any dried or rooty herbs thyme/rosemary you fancy, season, bring to the boil and pressure cook for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile roughly chop a bunch of parsley and mash into a generous amount of softened butter. When the potatoes are cooked, dress with the parsley butter and serve, strained, reserving the stock to use as an anaemic gravy.
Yes, it's basically just boiled spuds.
They will stay warm for a surprisingly long time if you take the pressure cooker off the heat without releasing the steam.

Broccoli with Soy Sauce
veg vegan side nautical oriental
This oriental-styled broccoli goes nicely with the a beef wellington. Don't overdo the soy - it's meant to be quite a subtle flavouring.

Serves 4

Break the broccoli into florets and slice thick stalks into diagonal sections. Heat a little oil or oil and butter in a pan, add ground pepper and the broccoli (add any stalks first) and fry to colour lightly. Add some shredded ginger if you're using it and colour. Add the sliced garlic and fry to darken without burning. Add a generous, but not overwhelming splash of soy sauce, cover and simmer gently until tender.

Tear up the basil leaves if using and stir through the broccoli to serve.
Good combination of flavours - goes well with beef!

Comments (2)

Newest first Oldest first

  1. Thanks Will - you're very welcome.

    Sorry about my minor editing there - no names, no pack drill ;)

    #2 – 12 September, 2014 at 9:53 pm

  2. Will's avatar Will

    Attesting that this was substantially fine cuisine from Mr Sourville here, recommended.

    #1 – 11 September, 2014 at 8:53 pm

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