Sometimes you just need a special dinner...whether you're celebrating a special occasion, a special someone or it's just a normal night that you want to feel special. For those nights, my friend Jonathan Wilkinson’s Bison Wellington is just perfect! He’s British, so he knows his way around a wellington but using bison makes this already special dish a bit unique. Instead of making one large wellington, I prefer to use 4 individual sized Bison Filet Mignon which is what I have done here…but you could certainly adapt this recipe to make one large one (and/or use the traditional beef) instead. You can also make all of the elements of this dish in advance and simply sear, assemble and bake the bison wellington when ready to eat which is perfect so you can focus on your special night and guests!
2 TBS high quality, European butter
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ pounds white button mushrooms, sliced
2 shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
Heavy splash of madeira
Heavy splash of heavy whipping cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 6oz. Bison Filet Mignon
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8-12 thin slices of prosciutto
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
1 lb puff pastry (and flour for rolling out as needed)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ tsp coarse sea salt
1 ½ cups beef stock
2 TBS cornstarch mixed with a bit of cold water
1 TBS butter
Take bison out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature for 20-30 minutes
To prepare the meat, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sear in a hot non-stick pan and brown bison on all sides. Take meat off heat and allow to cool slightly.
To make duxelles, add butter and olive oil to the same pan used for the bison, add mushrooms, shallots, garlic and thyme and sauté for 8-10 minutes. Turn stovetop vent/fan off if you have it on (trust me on this). Add madeira, and light alcohol on fire with a lighter to quickly flambé the mixture. Remove one-third of the mushroom mixture and set aside to make sauce later. Add a heavy splash of cream to the remaining mushroom mixture in the pan, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove duxelles from heat and set aside to cool.
Take each bison fliet and wrap in 2-3 slices of prosciutto so fully wrapped. Place bison wrapped in prosciutto in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes. This may seem odd, but by lowering the temperature of the bison it will allow the bison to get cooked to only medium rare while the puff pastry outside fully bakes. If you like your bison cooked medium or more well done this step is less critical.
Preheat oven to 425°F
Meanwhile, roll out the puff pastry to about ¼” thick and cut it into 8 even pieces large enough for 2 pieces together to encompass one entire filet. Place 4 of the puff pastry sheets, evenly spaced, onto a large baking sheet. Set each prosciutto-wrapped bison filet in the center of one pastry. Put a heaping spoonful of the duxelles on top of each filet. Brush the edges of the puff pastry under the filet with the lightly beaten egg and then place the second puff pastry on top of the filet and duxelles and press edges of the two pastry puff sheets together to seal completely, trimming and making decorative as you desire. Brush outside of each pastry with egg wash and sprinkle with coarse sea salt.
Bake for ~20 minutes for medium rare, assuming bison is about 1 ½“ thick and until pasty is fully cooked through and browned on the outside.
While the bison wellington is cooking, put the reserved mushroom mixture (not duxelles with the cream, but those you set aside before adding cream) in a small pot and heat. Add the 1 ½ cups of beef stock. To thicken, add some of the cornstarch/cold water mixture to get it to your preferred sauce consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving, add the 1TBS of butter to the sauce and melt in to make your sauce rich and velvety.
Once the Bison Wellington is done, let it rest for 10 minutes. Trust me on this...I know it's hard to resist, but grab a glass of wine and wait the full 10 minutes! When ready to serve, add a large spoonful of your sauce to the center of each plate, cut each bison wellington in half and place two halves on top of the sauce.
Toast to your special night, amazing food and enjoy!