Patience does not run strong in chefs, says Christina Wilson. That’s clear in her as she strides across the Gordon Ramsay Steak dining room at Paris Las Vegas as if her kitchen is on fire. She landed the chef de cuisine job after surviving—er, winning the Hell’s Kitchen reality show.
Temperament, she explains, is why so many chef-contestants failed so spectacularly at Ramsay’s roasted beef Wellington challenge. The cooking of the pastry-wrapped filet with mushroom duxelle itself isn’t complicated, but this is a dish that cannot be rushed. “Bakers have patience, [but] chefs, we’re always ‘Go! Go! Go!’” she says in her rapid-fire New Jersey accent. “This dish makes you slow down.”
One rookie mistake is an uneven sear on the meat; that’ll lead to “a lopsided half-well, half-rare mess,” Wilson says. The crepes are tricky, and Wilson admits she still burns them occasionally. Season each component of the dish well, she advises, because once the Wellington is wrapped there’s no chance to adjust later. Also, allow the components to cool before assembling. If you rush and use warm ingredients, the mustard will slide off the beef, or your pastry will look as if it was prepared by a toddler.
The Wellington appears on the restaurant’s new four-course limited-edition tasting menu that debuts this week ($145 per person; $75 for wine pairings), served with root vegetables, potato purée and a red-wine demi-glace and paired with a 2009 Faust cabernet sauvignon. Also on the menu is the equally contestant-annihilating scallop risotto. “This being a gambling town, I’d be willing to bet that if we had the risotto on the regular appetizer menu it’d be our biggest seller,” Wilson says. “People who watch [Hell’s Kitchen] get truly invested in the contestants and in the food. Eating dishes they’ve seen makes them feel a part of it.”
So does watching Wilson on display in Steak’s open kitchen. Now that she’s done training, she’s learning to juggle requests from fans for pictures with the need to operate her 10-man line. “It’s a funny business in that you spend four or five hours prepping a meal that people get down in less than 40 minutes. It’s like a roller coaster. You take all that time to get to the top, and then it’s over just like that.” And yeah, it’s a little clichéd, but it thrills her to see the diners’ reactions to her work. “It’s the narcissist in me. I gotta get that feedback—good, bad or indifferent.” The Wellington, she says, always makes them happy.
Gordon Ramsay’s Roasted Beef Wellington
Yields 1 serving
1 6-ounce prime filet of beef (Ramsay’s is aged 28 days)
½ tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 slice prosciutto
2 tablespoons mushroom duxelle
1 herb crepe
1 5-inch-by-5-inch piece of raw puff pastry
Egg wash (with a pinch of brown sugar)
Sear the beef on all sides, leaving it raw. Cool and paint with Dijon mustard. Roll the pastry out large enough to wrap around the meat and set aside. Place the cooked, cooled crepe on a clean surface. Spread 2 tablespoons of mushroom duxelle into the middle of the crepe. Place a slice of prosciutto on top of the mushrooms. Place the seared beef on the far end of the prosciutto. Roll to form a cylinder. Trim any excess crepe from the sides of the roll. Wrap the roll in the puff pastry. Seal the open ends with egg wash. Bake for 20 minutes at 200 degrees, then 15 minutes at 180 degrees. Allow to rest for 10–15 minutes before slicing. The meat should be medium-rare.
chop the mushrooms. Place in a Robot Coupe food processor and process
until a paste forms. Sauté in a dry pan until the mixture is completely
through a chinois strainer. Pour 1 ounce of batter to prepare each crepe on a griddle or crepe pan.