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Cheap and Elegant Main Dish: Beef Roll Wellington

In January, many people want to invite friends to their homes to celebrate the new year, watch sports games and movies, and just hunker down in a warm and comfy place. Nonetheless, pulling off a special dinner party main course isn't easy in the midst of post-Christmas budget blahs. Yes, chili is an option, but I wondered if I could come up with something that would be more elegant, tasty, and keep the dinner costs in the $25 range. All of the roasts I considered were too expensive or would allow for no other dishes for dinner. So, instead of a roast, I opted for an alternative your grandmothers or great grandmothers probably used, particularly if they had to contend with food rationing during World War II—meatloaf. In this case, though, I dressed up the meatloaf considerably to make it special. Beef Wellington recipes generally rely on beef tenderloin and have a topping of “duxelles,” which is a fancy name for a mushroom and onion mixture, buried beneath a pastry crust. The “Beef Roll Wellington” has a similar mushroom and onion filling and crust, making it look and taste great but at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

The recipe seems to have a lot of parts, but it’s easy and very, very, very good. You make a meat loaf, add a creamy mushroom filling, roll it up, and bake it. Then you top the meat with roll dough and bake it to a rich, golden brown. While the beef roll is baking, you can whisk up a simple sauce using the same pan you used to cook the mushroom filling. Serve the sauce alongside the beef roll to top the cut slices. Not too hard, and ummm, really great! Far better than chili!

Beef Roll Wellington

Beef Roll Wellington -- Serves 6

1 ¼ - 1 ½ pounds of lean ground beef (93 percent lean)

½ teaspoon of garlic powder

¼ teaspoon of pepper

¼ teaspoon of salt

1 cup of stale whole-wheat bread, crumbled (several slices)

1 tablespoon of grainy Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of minced dried onion

2 tablespoons of dried parsley flakes

2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

2 eggs, one separated

½ - 1 cup of low fat milk

Mushroom filling (see below)

1 tube of refrigerated crescent roll dough (8+ rolls)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and coat a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the beef, garlic powder, pepper, salt, breadcrumbs, mustard, onion, parsley flakes, Worcestershire sauce, 1 egg, and 1 egg yolk with enough milk to bind the mixture. On a large piece of waxed paper, pat the meat mixture out into a 14 x 10 inch rectangle (approximately). Spread the mushroom mixture to within ½ inch of the edges. Roll the meat and mushroom mixture up, jelly roll style, into a log/loaf (hint: use the waxed paper to lift one edge to start the rolling process). Place the log, seam side down, on the prepared pan and bake it for 45 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven, let it cool for 5 minutes, and, if necessary, drain off the fat (there may not be much, if any). While the meat is cooling, roll out the crescent dough to form a large, approximately 15 x 12-inch rectangle. Drape the dough over the meat roll, covering the visible (top) sides. Trim the extra dough, if there is any, and use the extra dough to make decorations on top of the dough. I make twisted ropes because they’re easy and quick. Beat the reserved egg white and brush it over the dough. Bake the meat roll for 10-15 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.

Mushroom Filling

8 ounces of sliced mushrooms

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 small chopped onion

2 tablespoons of red wine (optional)

1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon of pepper

4 ounces (1/2 a block) of reduced fat cream cheese

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the mushrooms and onions and sauté them for 7-10 minutes until browned a bit and softened. Add the wine, parsley, salt, and pepper and stir everything well. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream cheese until it melts into the mushrooms and onions.


1 cup of reduced sodium beef broth

½ teaspoon of pepper

½ teaspoon of thyme

1 teaspoon of grainy Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons of red wine (optional)

½ cup of water

¼ cup of flour

Mix the broth, pepper, thyme, mustard, and wine in the skillet you used to cook the mushroom mixture. Heat the broth mixture over medium heat until it’s simmering. In a small bowl or cup, whisk the flour into the water until the mixture is smooth and then whisk the flour mixture into the simmering broth. Turn down the heat to medium low and let the sauce cook, whisking it occasionally, for 5-10 minutes or until it has thickened. Serve the sauce alongside the beef roll.

Meatloaf Wellington

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