Fancy trying something new this Christmas Eve? For our Christmas Digital Issue guest-edited by Martine McCutcheon, James Martin has shared two showstopping recipes that are perfect to kick off the pre-turkey binge – an indulgent beef in a brioche crust, and a classic sea bass en croute with hollandaise sauce.
Both are fabulous options ahead of the big day.
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"People rave about Beef Wellington, which is amazing, but it's actually quite tricky to do Wellington well," James told HELLO!
"The brioche is a bit more forgiving. Once you've mastered the art of making it, in essence, it's an enriched yeast dough. It's a bread dough with the addition of milk, butter and a little bit of sugar (if you want). Turning it into a Wellington is something restaurants do, it's actually very simple to make."
Beef in a Brioche Crust
15ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing (optional)
600g centre-cut, aged fillet of beef
400g chestnut mushrooms
100g chicken liver pâté
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the brioche dough:
200ml full-fat milk
500g T45 flour, plus extra for dusting
25g caster sugar
10g table salt
50g butter, softened
For the pancakes:
100g plain flour
300ml full-fat milk
Vegetable oil, for frying
For the egg wash:
1 egg, beaten
For the sauce:
500ml veal jus
25ml red wine
1. Start by making the brioche dough: put the eggs and milk into the bowl of a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment and whisk. Mix in the flour, sugar, salt and yeast, and add the butter when the dough starts to come together. Knead the dough until it reaches an elastic consistency and use the window-pane test to determine if it’s ready. Cover the dough with a clean tea towel and leave to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. Then roll it into a ball, wrap it in clingfilm and rest in the fridge for at least 3 hours or ideally overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/400°F/gas 6. Add the vegetable oil to a really hot frying pan and seal the beef all over. Place in a large roasting tray and roast the beef for 20 minutes. Strain the juices and set aside and leave the beef to cool, then cover and transfer to the fridge.
3. Blitz the mushrooms in a food processor and pat them dry. Pop into a frying pan over a high heat, add half the butter, the beef juices and season. Cook until all the liquid has evaporated, then leave to cool.
4. Sauté the spinach in the remaining 25g butter and then transfer to a tray lined with a J cloth.
5. When you are ready to cook the beef, preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan)/400°F/gas 6.
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6. To make the pancakes, whisk the flour, eggs and milk together. Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add a ladleful of batter and cook the pancake for a minute on each side. Put the cooked pancakes between layers of greaseproof paper; you need 4 pancakes in total.
7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the brioche dough to form a 40 x 20cm rectangle, 3mm thick. Pop all the pancakes on top of the dough and spread the pâté evenly over the pancakes. Add the mushrooms and then the spinach on top of the pâté, place the beef in the centre and season. Brush the edges of the pastry with the egg wash and fold them over the beef.
8. Brush the top and sides of the dough with the egg wash and, using a table knife, decorate the pastry if you wish, making sure you don’t cut through the dough. Transfer to a greased or lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes for a medium rare finish. 9. While the beef is cooking, make the sauce. Pour the jus, Madeira and red wine into a pan over a medium heat. When it has reduced by half, swirl in the butter.
10. To serve, slice the beef and spoon over the sauce.
Sea Bass en croute with Hollandaise Sauce
"It's a fish version of the Wellington," James told HELLO! "Really simple to prepare, you can make it the day before. It cooks as a whole piece so it's ideal for families or a dinner party. You cook it whole, nice and simple, no bones, easy to portion. You don't have to do it with seabass, it works well with salmon. Any fish that has a natural tendency to have a gluey texture, it binds together well."
600g puff pastry
Plain flour, for dusting
1 sea bass (approx. 1.2–1.4kg), skinned, boned and cut into 2 fillets
For the mousse:
75g sea bass, skinned
125g egg (about 3 eggs)
1 egg yolk
200ml whipping cream
25g pistachios, chopped
A few sprigs of tarragon, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Hollandaise sauce:
250ml white wine
100ml white wine vinegar
2 sprigs of thyme
2 sprigs of tarragon
3 egg yolks
225g butter, melted
35g clotted cream
For the egg wash:
25ml full-fat milk
1. To make the mousse, blend the sea bass, scallops, whole eggs, egg yolk and cream in a Thermomix, in one movement, until homogenous and smooth. Fold through the pistachios and tarragon and season with salt and pepper.
2. Mix together the eggs and milk for the egg wash.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to a thickness of 3mm, then divide it into 2 equal pieces. Transfer one piece to a baking sheet. Lay the first sea bass fillet onto the pastry and spoon the mousse evenly down its centre. Sandwich the other fillet on top. Carefully place the second sheet of pastry on top, trimming any edges to fit, and seal it in with egg wash.
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4. Cut out a pastry fish using the pastry offcuts to decorate the top of the sea bass parcel. Brush the top and sides with the egg wash and chill for 30 minutes, then add the pastry fish and any other details. 5. Preheat the oven to 190°C (170°C fan)/375°F/gas
5. Bake for 20 minutes until the pastry is golden brown and evenly baked.
6. While the fish bakes, make the hollandaise. Add the wine, wine vinegar, thyme, tarragon and 4 grinds of black peppercorns to a pan over a high heat and boil rapidly to reduce by half. Pass this through a sieve and store refrigerated in a clean jar, for use now and with leftovers another time.
7. In a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisk the egg yolks with 3 tablespoons of the reduction and a good pinch of salt until you have a thick, glossy, light sauce. Then carefully, in stages, whisk in the melted butter, pouring it in a steady stream. Finish the hollandaise by mixing in the clotted cream and seasoning with some salt and pepper. Set over a pan of simmering water to keep it warm.
8. Serve a slice of the sea bass en croute with the hollandaise sauce on the side.
Butter by James Martin, £14.69, Amazon
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