Pork Wellington: A Study

I absolutely love this recipe because it is so easy and impressive and can be done ahead of time. It is also the most requested dish in our house. Your friends and family will be in awe: I have been making this for years and it never ceases to impress guests. I get a lot of questions from friends and family about cooking pork and if it is safe and clean. It is now, and some cuts can even be as healthy as a chicken breast. Here is an easy way to make an incredible dinner and add something to your dinner rotation.

Do I need to cook pork all the way?

Not anymore. Because of advances in raising hogs, such as grain-feeding and testing before slaughter, trichinosis is pretty much history. There have been very few cases in the past decade and it has usually been from wild game. It was found that trichina larvae perish at 137 degrees Fahrenheit after 10 seconds, but the FDA recommends cooking pork to 145 degrees Fahrenheit (it used to be 170!). The USDA recommends cooking to 160. I will be setting my thermometer for 140 and allowing the internal temperature to rise to 145 as the meat rests out of the oven.

How does puff pastry work?

Puff pastry is layers and layers (about 800… Really) of dough and butter. The process to make it is excruciating and takes so much patience, refrigeration, and machinery that I’m proud and lucky I have even had the chance to attempt it. The key to puff pastry is to cook it at a high temperature so that the water in the layer of butter evaporates quickly, forcing the layers of dough upwards. Then the proteins in the layers of dough coagulate and stiffen so that the pastry does not fall. You may have had puff pastry that is soft and thick with a puddle of butter after you have cooked it. This is probably from a low cooking temperature, or because the package you bought may have defrosted during shipping, which messes with the composition. No worries, it still tastes good. The wellington dough won’t is puffy and delicate for several reasons, but should still be crisp and flaky.

What is silverskin? How do I remove it?

Silverskin, also known as “elastic”, is a protein in connective tissues that appears white or silver. Unlike other connective tissues in meat it does not break down and needs to be removed before cooking or you and your guests will be either awkwardly swallowing it to avoid embarrassment or chewing infinitely. Usually, connective tissue breaks down during cooking and determines a meat’s tenderness. Filet mignon and fish meat have the very little connective tissue. Pork shoulder and top round have a lot and need to be cooked longer to allow it all to break down. To remove silverskin, loosen a piece at the edge and grab hold with one hand. Position your knife underneath and angle it up slightly so that when you run your knife along the silverskin you do not remove any of the meat.

What is whole grain mustard?

Mustard is made by combining ground mustard, vinegar, wine, salt, and sometimes herbs, honey, and other unique ingredients. Wholegrain mustard contains whole mustard seeds instead of ground mustard seeds, which can sometimes give it a stronger or spicier flavor.Pork Wellington

Can I use wine instead of beer?

I would recommend a white wine, but if you only have red that’s ok. I chose beer here because I thought it would be a nice twist and something different. How did I know beer would work? I looked at the other ingredients and thought, “Would I have a beer with that?” Bacon? Yes! A bacon burger and beer… Yes. Mustard? With a pretzel, totally. Apples? Apple picking with a beer? Close enough. Pork? Of course… Sausage, hot dogs, etc. If you are nervous totry something you can always set a small amount aside in a small pan and try.

Why do apples turn brown?

Very simply put, browning occurs when oxygen in the air reacts with an enzyme in the fruit that is exposed by cutting or biting. This can be prevented by avoiding exposure of the fruit to the air, most commonly by submerging in acidulated water (water with acid, usually lemon juice), or cooking immediately. Look for this reaction in other foods like potatoes and avocados!

Can I substitute olive oil for the butter?

Technically you can, but I don’t recommend it. The flavor will change a lot, you will be able to taste the olive oil, and I am choosing to use butter for a specific reason. Butter works well here because it will help caramelize the sugars in the apples better than olive oil would. Also, like we saw with brown butter in my last recipe, by cooking the butter and browning the milk solids we are achieving a new layer of flavor that is going to really amp up your filling. It’s only a tablespoon… Just say yes to butter today.

What is egg wash?

Egg wash is a beaten egg, sometimes mixed with liquid, that is used to add browning and shine to pastry and also to seal the dough. What happens here is the egg proteins, the white is called albumin, coagulate and seal the dough pieces. The egg has been used as glue for a very, very long time, and for good reason. It also adds beautiful shine and browning as the proteins and fat bake. It is ideal when brushed on the dough and can be used for pies, calzones, scones, rolls, even potatoes. It is a good trick to have up your sleeve because a nice egg wash can really make a simple dish look great, and remember, you eat first with your eyes. Tip: you can also use milk for a browning effect. The milk solids brown nicely but won’t has such a gorgeous shine.