This week Celebrity Chef from Ready Steady Cook & Fellow Master Chef Steven Saunders, proprietor of The Little Geranium in La Cala invents a new style of Wellington dish, the Scallop Wellington!
WE all love a Wellington because let’s be honest, what is nicer than a delicious piece of meat or fish wrapped in buttery pastry and baked in the oven?
I am not 100 per cent certain where the name of the dish Wellington comes from as I had assumed that it came from the first Duke of Wellington (UK’s prime minister in 1828), but some say it was a dish served in the town Wellington in New Zealand for a civic reception in that era.
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It is one of the most wonderful and most popular dishes to eat, but why is it usually always beef? You could make a wellington using anything… and so I did… Scallop Wellington!
I googled Scallop Wellington to see if any other chefs were doing something similar and there is one entry, but it’s making little puff pastry vol au vents filled with scallops.
That’s not the same thing at all and the only other things that come up are scallops from Wellington in New Zealand. So I’m pretty safe to say that this is my dish!
From 2004 to 2007 I ran and operated Brocket Hall in Welwyn Garden City, St Albans, near London. Brocket Hall was the home of the eccentric Lord Brocket who some will remember for his time on I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here which was filmed in the jungle in Australia, whilst others may remember him for burying his Ferrari collection in his own estate!
Either way Brocket Hall is steeped in fascinating history.
I was enchanted by Brocket Hall and this prestigious mansion and wanted to know more about the history. In the grounds there is a beautiful building called Melbourne Lodge. It was named after Lord Melbourne who was the UK prime minister in 1835.
The Duke of Wellington was a colleague and friend of Lord Melbourne and Brocket Hall was Lord Melbourne’s designated home. He often entertained the Duke of Wellington at Brocket Hall, so it seemed obvious to me that we should make use of the Wellington theme at Brocket Hall.
That is where I started expanding my enthusiasm for this dish by doing Venison Wellington, Sea Bass Wellington, Pork wellington and so on.
At the Little Geranium we are well- known and loved for our tasting menus and our surprise eight-course tasting menu (which I change weekly) currently has a mini Wellington of hand dived scallops as one of the courses.
It has been so incredibly popular that I have kept it on the taster menu. Clients have said that it is one of the best things that they have ever eaten and so I have kept it running!
You will need to find decent sized fresh scallops for this dish which can be prepared in advance, so it’s great as a starter at a dinner party.
You simply take the mini Wellingtons out of the fridge, brush and glaze the pastry with egg yolk and pop them in a hot oven for about five minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
The scallop cooks perfectly in the pastry, moist and slightly undercooked snuggled in its crispy pastry coat. It really is delicious!
To save time you can buy good butter puff pastry here in Spain. We serve it with a pea and beetroot puree. Purees are on trend at the moment in Michelin restaurants. We use them a lot as they are great for presenting a dish pulled across a plate and fab for adding flavours because anything pureed usually has a really concentrated flavour.
So if you want to impress a loved one this weekend, serve this as a starter and you will be amazed at the enthusiasm that it receives!
Steven Saunders’s opinions are his own and are not necessarily representative of those of the publishers, advertisers or sponsors.
Recipe serves four
8 x fresh hand dived scallops
A tablespoon of olive oil
100g of chilled salted butter cut into 1cm pieces
300g mixture of mixed or wild mushrooms, cleaned
2 cloves garlic peeled
1 small onion peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon of thick cream
500g pre-made puff pastry (made with butter)
8 small slices of Serrano ham
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
2 egg yolks for glazing pastry
Roughly chop the mushrooms and fry in a hot pan with a little olive oil, the onion and garlic and some seasoning.
Continue to cook on a high heat for about five minutes until all the excess moisture has evaporated. Remove the mushrooms from the pan, leave to cool and then blend in a food processor until fine and then add the cream to bind it together. This is called a duxelle. Check seasoning before using.
Cut the pastry into small saucer size circles and roll out to 2mm thick if it’s not pre- rolled.
Lay a sheet of cling film on a work surface and place the circle of pastry on and then place on a slice of Serrano ham.
Seal all the scallops in a very hot frying pan with a little olive oil and add the pieces of the butter. The butter will give them colour and start the cooking process. Do not turn them over and seal for only one minute. Remove from heat and rest.
Place the scallop on top of the ham in the centre. Spread a little Dijon mustard evenly and finely on the scallop and then put on a teaspoon of the duxelle on top of the scallop. Using the cling film, roll the pastry and Serrano ham over the scallop, then roll and tie the cling film underneath to get the pastry a nice round shape. Repeat this step with the other scallops and keep in fridge until needed.
Remove the cling film from the scallops and trim the pastry underneath if necessary.
Brush the mini Wellingtons all over with the egg yolk.
When you are ready to cook the Wellingtons, bake in a hot pre-heated oven on a baking tray lined with a little oil (to stop them sticking) at 225ºC for five minutes until the pastry is golden brown. Rest for a few minutes before serving. Sprinkle with a little Maldon salt.
1kg of frozen peas
Maldon salt and a squeeze of lemon to finish
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and blanch the peas for two minutes.
Add the peas to a blender or thermomix along with a little of the cooking water.
Blitz the peas, adding more liquid in small tablespoons if needed. Blend for no more than three minutes, until a fairly thick, smooth puree.
Taste and season with salt and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice if desired.