May 7, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ros @ 5:01 pm

Ostrich Wellington

The best way to confuse a foodie is to ask them one question: “What is your favourite food?”

Someone distinctly non-foodie, like my Dad, will be able to answer this immediately: “‘Tesco crusty bread”.  In fact I’ve found bread is a very common choice amongst those who aren’t that bothered about food. Other popular answers include chips, chicken and steak (medium well). A foodie, on the other hand, will probably find that question a real challenge to answer. They’ll think for a while, then reel off a list of several things they can’t decide between. On the odd occasions they can answer, it will either be oysters, foie gras, or something really obscure. 

I was recently forced to answer this question myself,  by someone even more stubborn than me. The inquisitor was one of my ten year old students. I don’t know why ten year olds are so inquisitive about random things, but, for some reason, my eating habits held much more interest to her than our work on percentages.

She flatly refused to do anything until I gave her a proper answer. Apparently my honest response of ‘I can’t choose’ was not acceptable. After a long, stubborn silence from both of us, I gave in and chose something that I absolutely love that would also alert her to the fact I am a bit of a weirdo, so, hopefully, she’d never ask me anything like that again.

My food of choice was rare ostrich fillet. There’s something about the rich game flavour combined with its beefiness that makes me happy to travel half way across London on a regular basis to make sure I get my next fix. The problem was that, once I’d given my small tormentor my answer, I had a craving for ostrich I couldn’t get rid of. Luckily, it was Thursday night and so I had the option of running off to Borough the next morning.

And so the subject of the picture above came into being. It was Goon who inadvertently came up with the idea for what to do with this particular fillet. He wanted “that thing I made for his brother“. I could do that, but I had a hankering for madeira, so I decided that this time, for a change, I would make a Wellington in a more traditional way.

As far as I’m aware a ‘traditional’ Wellington is made by lightly coating a beef fillet in foie gras paté, topping it with a thin layer of chopped flat field mushrooms cooked with cream and madeira wine, wrapping the whole thing in crepes, then pastry and finally baking it.  My plans for minor alterations (apart from the obvious meat substitute) involved replacing the field mushrooms with porcini and the foie gras with a mixed game paté.

i started off following this recipe for crepes (half way down the page). This combination produces a very light batter which is just right for making thin crepes that keep the pastry dry but are otherwise barely noticable in your end product. Before the batter went into a frying pan, I added a handful of finely chopped rosemary and thyme for extra flavour. 

My next job was to brush the ostrich fillet with my paté. This turned out to be the only problematic part of this meal. Someone (I wonder who :roll: ) had binned the game paté I’d left in Goon’s fridge. As I stode off towards a certain flatmate’s room, brandishing a large sharpened kitchen knife, Goon picked me up, told me to calm down and reminded me about the three tins of French duck paté that Dad had brought back on his last trip to Paris.

The three tins quickly turned into one as Goon got his hands on the paté and started scoffing, but I salvaged the last one and spread it thinly over the ostrich fillet. Finally, I soaked some porcini mushrooms, and fried them with a splash of madeira and cream for a couple of minutes until the mixture was dry enough to spread over the top of the fillet. Once that was done, the fillet got wrapped in crepes, then the pastry and went in the oven.

Thirteen minutes at 220C was enough to make the Wellington a perfect rare.

wellington again

The dark liquid you can see in the first picture is a port reduction. There were some purple potatoes too, which I was disappointed to find I didn’t like. I’m hoping I just cooked them badly… now if ony I could find out what the damn things were called, I’d ask for tips on how to do it next time!

In spite of the oddly dry purple potatoes, this meal was was really good and there was some left for lunch the next day which makes it even better. If I had been available at the time I might have submitted this to Sam’s event, Fish and Quips. It’s a shame I was too busy.


  1. This looks excellent…oh to have three tins of french duck pate in the cupboard. If I could go to Borough this weekend I would get the ostrich filet, a rack of lamb, some oysters to eat raw, and some of that scrumptious wild boar pate. You are spot on about the Ostrich…a ducky beef!

    Comment by Vanessa — May 7, 2007 @ 10:34 pm

  2. Mmmm, this looks just amazing! Ostrich is always best rare, otherwise I find it very dense and heavy. And Beef/ostrich Wellington is one of those classic dishes that I always think “one day” but in reality I know I will lose interest halfway through and get Nick to toss the meat on the BBQ instead!! Hats off to you for your perseverance :)

    Comment by Jeanne — May 9, 2007 @ 12:33 pm

  3. OOh, the ostrich looks just like beef fillet. I am dying to get hold of some to try now!

    Comment by Freya — May 10, 2007 @ 7:51 pm

  4. I really like the idea of ostrich wellington, Ros. And to cook it much further than you have would be an awful shame. I think you’ve got this spot on, apart from the purple potatoes of course. The ones I got at Borough for my Xmas meal were called “black truffle” potatoes, but I’ve seen other purple varieties as well.

    Comment by Trig — May 12, 2007 @ 6:06 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

In the aid of defeating SPAM Comments, please follow these instructions: