DC #8 – "En Croute" Two Ways

by Jenn on December 13, 2009

in Daring Kitchen,Flops,Gluten Free,Meats,Seafood


The 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

Now this month was a serious challenge!!  I had to do it twice to get something even remotely similar to the original intent, and even then it wasn’t perfect.  The first en croute dish I made was beef wellington, and the 2nd attempt was a pastry-wrapped fish entree using sole (see pic above).  En croute (OHN-CROOT) is a French term that pretty much means “something wrapped in pastry dough”.  One of the great advantages of doing an en croute style entree is that the pastry helps to seal in the moisture and keep whatever you are roasting from drying out.  On the surface, this was a fairly simple challenge – make a shortcrust pastry or get some puff pastry, wrap your entree, and bake it.  Simple enough, until you remember that I need to accommodate my gluten free husband.

The first thing I did was to make a Beef Wellington (Gordon Ramsay Style).   Even though the roast itself was superb, so many things went wrong with this from the start, it was just really depressing.

1. The butcher at the store totally mutilated my tenderloin roast when he cut it, which I didn’t realize til I got home and saw that my 1.5 lb. roast was in 3 separate pieces. I told him it was for a roast too. Who roasts their meat in little pieces? Uggh.

2. The guy at the deli counter sliced the prosciutto too thin and I couldn’t check til I got home – all the slices had holes in them (another thing I couldn’t see til I got home), so they didn’t lay nicely wrapped around the roast either, which probably didn’t help because the mushroom/mustardness wouldn’t stay in. I tried to fix this by using a lot more.  Mmmm prosciutto.

3. I had originally toyed with the idea of just using the gluten free pie crust dough that I know works, but one reader had commented about avoiding soy flour and so I changed the ingredients. I used a mixture of millet, white rice and tapioca with butter and a bit of water, and the result was disastrous. The dough would not lift and mold well, so I more or less had to sculpt it onto the roast. It also didn’t stay together at all, as you can see by the texture and where it broke apart:


As you can see I skipped the crepe step, mainly because the recipe on Good Food didn’t use a crepe and I forgot to get the ingredients for it, so I thought I could get away with it. I don’t think it would’ve helped my failed pastry dough though. Whether it stuck to the roast or not, the pastry was still a total failure.  Butter was also oozing out everywhere and dripping all over the oven making a smoky mess. This was probably the red flag telling me that this pastry was all wrong before it was done, but I can be oblivious sometimes…So after spending a good $45 on this meal for about 6 servings of food, I was pretty disappointed in myself that I totally ruined it. My mom couldn’t eat the pastry anyways because she is diabetic, so we all just ripped off the pastry and ate the roast.

As for the roast itself, it was DELICIOUS!!  I LOVED the added flavor the prosciutto, mushrooms and mustard added. And considering that each beef wellington was a totally different size/shape because of the butcher’s crappy skills, I’m pretty proud of myself for estimating the correct time for each one to come out with a nice pink in the middle after letting it rest for about 10 min.


Forgive the pics of the beef wellington, I was in a rush and had crappy incandescent AND fluorescent mixed lighting….That whole post I just did before on taking your time?  Yeah totally did not have that type of opportunity here.  Not with a very hungry family waiting to enjoy delicious tenderloin roast!  At this point I was just really depressed about how the pastry came out. Julia Child says you should never apologize for your food, but I couldn’t help but feel terrible for ruining this. I refuse to buy the store-bought puff pastry stuff, there has to be a way to make it from scratch. I guess that will teach me to experiment on a nice meal…..

But it did not keep me from giving up!  This past weekend, I tried again with not perfect, but much improved results – to save money I used only ingredients I had around the house, and so did a rendition of the salmon en croute recipe rather than the beef wellington, using filet of sole that I had in the freezer, and an orange and parsley buttered “pesto” of sorts.  Sole is a nice lighter fish with a very mild taste, which is more agreeable than salmon for the members of my family anyways.  The new and revised dough still had a few issues but it was lighter and flakier, and did not slide off of the entree.  Yay!  Ha at this point, I’ll take it.  Everyone loved the fish, and thought it was delicious.  I am a big fan of citrus with seafood, and combining it with the brightly flavored parsley worked really well.

Developing a gluten free recipe when you have very little starting guidelines as to how to adapt it for the gluten free diet is really tough.  I applaud all of you who can create your own gluten free recipes, I really do.  Y’all deserve a crazy amount of respect for coming up with a gluten free recipe that even remotely resembles the original.