According to Dennis Friedman of Bethesda's Newton's Table, Thanksgiving is about trying something new. "You always have to raise the bar," he says. One creation is his buffalo tenderloin, filled with roasted asparagus, mushroom duxelles, and a cheesy Israeli couscous. "I serve a bowl of roasted garlic on the side so you can pop a clove out and spread it over the Wellington," he says.
4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter
5 tablespoons chopped thyme
2 tablespoons minced garlic
½ cup roughly chopped button mushrooms
½ cup roughly chopped shiitake mushrooms
½ cup roughly chopped oyster mushrooms
2 tablespoons grapeseed oil, or another flavorless cooking oil
4 pounds whole buffalo tenderloin, available at Whole Foods or through local farms like Gunpowder Bison & Trading
1 cup red wine, such as Merlot or Cabernet
1 whole head garlic
2 packages frozen puff pastry dough (enough to cut 6 4-inch x 4-inch squares)
6 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 eggs, whisked together (for an egg wash)
1 pound asparagus
1 cup chicken stock
2 cups cooked Israeli couscous
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
6 sprigs rosemary for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoon of butter, the thyme, minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until aromatic and then add the mushrooms. Make the duxelles by cooking the mushrooms until all the moisture has been rendered out, stirring frequently for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
Add the oil to a large sauté pan set over high heat. Brown the buffalo tenderloin on all sides, keeping the center rare, until it is golden-brown on every side. Place the tenderloin onto a plate to cool.
Gently tip out any excess oil from the pan, making sure not to lose the accumulated juices or browned bits. Return the pan to the heat and add the red wine, scraping the bottom of the pan. If the jus is too thin, reduce it over low heat or add a tablespoon of butter to thicken it. Keep the jus warm until ready to serve.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place the bulb of garlic in the oven and roast it whole, about 30 minutes or until it's light brown and the garlic inside is soft.
To make the Wellington: Cut the tenderloin into 6 8-ounce filets. Lay the puff pastry dough on a cutting board and cut 6 4-inch x 4-inch squares. Brush a thin layer of mustard on the top side of each piece of pastry. Spread 3 tablespoons of the mushroom duxelles along the center of each pastry and lay the meat on top. Fold up all 4 corners of the pastry dough, pinching their ends together to make a good seal. When they are pinched closed, flip it over so the seams are facing down and the mushrooms are on top.
Brush the Wellingtons with the egg wash and place in the oven to cook to desired temperature—about 15 minutes for medium rare (a cooking thermometer should read 130 degrees). Remove the Wellingtons and let them rest.
In a separate pan set over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of butter. Add the asparagus and chicken stock and sauté until the asparagus is just beginning to cook, about a minute. Stir in the cooked couscous and the parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Cut each Wellington crosswise so there is a pocket for the stuffing, but it is still intact (it should resemble a Pac-Man shape). Fill each pocket with the couscous mixture so that it's spilling out onto the plate. Pour the jus around the couscous and bottom of the plate, and garnish each Wellington with a sprig of rosemary. Cut the garlic bulb in half so guests can squeeze out a clove spread it over their Wellingtons.