What a delight one recent afternoon when, there amidst the clutter in my inbox, was a note from Kimberly of Lauren Ashton Cellars, a small, boutique winery in Washington state. Kimberly explained, “We have just started distribution in Minnesota and are hoping to spread the word. I see that you’re based out of Minneapolis and am wondering if you would be open to a collaboration of sorts?”
Several emails and a phone call later, after weather delays due to the cold in Minneapolis and extra insulation around the package to ensure that the foil and cork seals would not be compromised by the low temperatures, a bottle of 2011 Cuvée Arlette from Lauren Ashton Cellars in Woodinville, Washington was delivered via UPS on a Saturday morning.
The bottle was placed to rest in Stefano’s cellar, after confirming its safe arrival with Kimberly and Bill, Lauren Ashton’s Tasting Studio Manager, who so diligently orchestrated the wine’s cross-country voyage from Washington to Minnesota.
While we carefully considered pairings and waited for the right weekend to cook and blog about it, we learned more about Lauren Ashton, this Washington state winery whose curators contacted us out of the blue and offered us a bottle of their divine 2011 Cuvée Arlette, which boats a 94-point rating from Wine Enthusiast magazine and is worth every penny of its $50 price tag.
Lauren Ashton Cellars is a newer winery, founded in 2009 by Kit Singh, a dentist by profession with a passion for wine. The winery is named after his two children, Ashley Lauren and Ashton Troy. Drawing from his wife Riinu’s Estonian heritage while honoring local pacific northwestern style, Singh quickly produced top-rated wines that blended Old World tradition with Washington state character.
The gifted 2011 Cuvée Arlette intrigued and challenged us. Its tasting notes state: Cuvée Arlette is a dark and luxurious blend of Merlot (49%), Cabernet Franc (29%), Cabernet Sauvignon (19.5%), and Petit Verdot (2.5%) sourced from the Columbia Valley AVA. It exhibits aromatics of raspberry, black currants, cocoa, and caramel with hints of spiciness and minerality. The tannin structure is focused and elegant.
The wine’s classic Bordeaux blend recalls an Italian Super Tuscan. It is a complex, strong wine that desires a robust pairing. We knew we needed a meat dish, but realized that this wine deserves something nuanced. Anyone can grill a steak and pair it with a powerful red. We wanted to create a dish with sophisticated flavors that would capture the elegance of the Cuvée Arlette. We decided on a filetto in crosta – beef tenderloin wrapped in mushrooms, truffle oil and proscuitto crudo, enveloped in a pastry crust, baked until golden brown.
It worked. The wine and the filetto balanced each other perfectly. The flavors of mushroom and truffle were subtle enough to compliment the tenderloin, yet the sum of the parts of this dish were mature enough to stand up to, and exalt, this structured, sophisticated wine.
Filetto in crosta
Beef tenderloin; 1 and 1/2 lb or approximately 650-700 grams
Prosciutto crudo; 7 ounces or approximately 200 grams
Mushrooms; mixed varieties of your choice, 32 ounces or approximately 1 Kilo
Butter; 2 Tbls. or approximately 30 grams
Olive oil; 6 Tablespoons
Garlic; 2 cloves
Dry white wine; 1/2 cup
Truffle oil; two or three dashes, to taste
Puff pastry; one box (two sheets), or enough to cover the tenderloin
Eggs yolks; from 4 large eggs
Salt; to taste
- If your puff pastry is frozen, set it out to thaw. Preheat the oven to 350° F, or 180° C.
- Chop the mushrooms into small pieces. Add the butter, 3 Tablespoons of olive oil, and mushrooms to a large skillet over medium-low heat. Once the butter is melted, add the mushrooms. Let the mushrooms cook until their liquid has almost cooked off. Add the wine, and again allow the liquid to cook off, adding salt to taste. Set the mushrooms aside to cool.
- Add the remaining 3 Tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet. Heat until sizzling over medium heat. Sear the tenderloin on all sides for about 20 minutes, adding salt as you turn. Remove from heat and let cool.
Lay out your prosciutto onto a cutting board so that it is ready to wrap around the tenderloin.
Blitz the mushrooms in a food processor along with the truffle oil until it becomes a paste.
Spread a layer of mushroom paste over the prosciutto crudo, and set the tenderloin on top of it. Spread the remaining mushroom paste over the sides and top of the tenderloin. Cove the tenderloin with the remaining prosciutto.
Beat together the egg yolks and set aside.
Sprinkle flour onto a large cutting board or working surface, and place one sheet of puff pasty on top of it. Sprinkle more flour onto the puff pastry, and roll the dough out to about 1/8 inch, or 3 mm, thick. Repeat the procedure for a second sheet of puff pastry.
- Set the mushroom and prosciutto covered tenderloin on top of one of the pastry sheets. With the second pastry sheet cover the tenderloin, wrapping the top sheet over the meat.
- Using a pastry brush, spread beaten egg yolk along the base of the bottom sheet of the puff pastry, where the top sheet touches. Trim any remaining puff pastry, leaving 1/2 inch, or 1.25 cm, extra on top and bottom. Pinch the top and bottom pastry sheets together to seal well.
- Brush the entire pastry-wrapped tenderloin with egg yolk. If you wish, cut 8 thin strips of puff pastry and arrange them lattice style over the tenderloin for decoration. Brush again with egg yolk.
- Place the filetto in crosta onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350° F, or 180° C for 30 minutes. Remove from over and let sit for 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to be reabsorbed.
Serve with a bottle of 2011 Cuvée Arlette.
Local Due Spaghetti readers, ask for Lauren Ashton’s Cuvée Arlette in your local liquor store and wine shops. It’s distributed by Small Lot, MN.