EDITOR’S NOTE: Rocco DiSpirito is author of the “Now Eat This!” and “Now Eat This! Diet” cookbooks.
For Christmas this year, I didn’t ask Santa for a new sweater, tie or even my two front teeth. I just wanted a richly satisfying holiday dinner that wouldn’t make me gain weight.
One of my solutions was a down-sized beef Wellington. Traditionally, this dish is a fillet of beef covered with pate, a sauteed mushroom mixture known as duxelles, then enveloped in buttery puff pastry and baked in the oven. Total heart attack material.
Beef Wellington is a dish with a story. It was named for the Duke of Wellington, a national hero for defeating Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. The Duke loved a certain dish prepared from beef, mushrooms, truffles, Madeira wine and pate cooked in pastry. It later was renamed in his honor.
So I decided to create a version that would fit into today’s healthy, lose-weight lifestyle. It took many attempts to get it right, but it was worth it. The result will impress you. So will the numbers. Traditional beef Wellington has 57 grams of fat and 744 calories per serving. My version has just 11 grams of fat and 328 calories.
My recipe is a nice alternative to the traditional prime rib that is served for many holiday dinners. The tenderloin is a lean cut of beef, so you can save calories and fat right there. I also figured out how to use a low-fat pancake mix as a crust instead of fat-laden puff pastry.
I used arrowroot to thicken the mushroom sauce, so there’s no fat involved, but plenty of highintensity flavor, especially with the addition of jerky. Spinach, which is full of good-for-you nutrients, rests just under the pastry for a decadent look and taste. You can eat and enjoy this dish, guilt-free, and still feel like you’re eating something holiday-worthy.
— Be sure to specify a center cut tenderloin at the meat counter so you don’t get a roast that contains several pieces of tenderloin pressed together.
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes
32-ounce beef tenderloin, center cut, trimmed of all visible fat
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
10 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup diced yellow onion
2-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 egg whites, beaten
1- 2/ 3 cups Bisquick Heart Smart Pancake and Baking Mix
5 chunks dried porcini mushrooms
3/4 ounce beef jerky, finely shredded
1/2 cup Madeira
1-1/2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Heat the oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Season the beef liberally with salt and pepper.
In a large saute pan over medium high, heat the olive oil. When the oil is just smoking, add the beef. Brown on all sides, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Once browned, remove the beef and place on a rack to rest.
Add the garlic to the hot pan and cook until lightly browned, about 20 seconds. Add the mushrooms and onion. Cook until the mushrooms and onions are soft and tender and all of their liquid has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add 2 teaspoons of the thyme.
Set aside 1/4 cup of the mushroom onion mixture. Transfer the rest to a food processor and pulse to roughly chop until reduced to 1/4-inch pieces. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate for 5 minutes. Once slightly cooled, add the spinach and egg whites and mix well.
In a medium bowl stir the pancake mix with just enough water, about 1/3 cup, to moisten and make a dough that holds together but is not sticky. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to a thin rectangle that is 2 inches longer than the beef roast. Place the beef on the dough. Spoon the spinach and mushroom mixture on the top and sides of the beef and pat down tightly. Fold the dough up and over the top of the beef and spinach and crimp the seams together.
Place the meat seam-side down on the prepared baking sheet. Cut a few slits in the top to vent. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the center of the roast registers 140 F. Remove from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place 2 of the porcini chunks in a spice grinder and grind to a fine powder. Place the mushroom powder, remaining whole porcini mushroom chunks and the shredded jerky in a microwave-safe bowl with 2 cups of water. Microwave on high for about 2 minutes, or until the water is simmering. Let sit for 5 minutes and repeat.
Pour the Madeira into a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for about 5 minutes, or until reduced by half. Pour the dried mushroom and beef broth through a fine mesh strainer into the reduced Madeira while pushing on the jerky and mushrooms to extract as much liquid as possible.
Remove the whole pieces of porcini mushrooms from the strainer and roughly chop them, then set them aside. Discard the jerky. Bring the broth and Madeira mixture to a boil.
In a small bowl, combine the arrowroot and 4 tablespoons cold water. Mix well, then add to the simmering sauce. Cook and stir for 1 minute, or until the sauce is just thickened. Add the soy sauce, remaining 1/2 teaspoon of thyme leaves and both the reserved chopped porcini and reserved 1/4 cup of the mushroom and onion mixture. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Slice the roast into 8 even slices and arrange on a platter. Serve with the sauce.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 328 calories; 11 g fat (30 percent of calories from fat; 3 g saturated); 82 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrate; 31 g protein; 3 g fiber; 756 mg sodium.