| RECIPE METHOD
TO PREPARE BEEF: Heat the olive oil in a heavy cast-iron skillet. Season the beef with salt and pepper and sear over high heat on all sides, about 5 minutes (cook for 2 minutes longer if you prefer the beef to be cooked to medium rather than medium-rare). Reduce the heat to medium, carefully pour brandy over the beef, and let it evaporate. Remove the beef from the pan and set aside. Add the butter to the pan and when melted, add the mushrooms and onion. Sauté over medium-high heat for about 9 minutes, until golden, tender, and the pan is almost dry. Remove and set aside.
TO PREPARE PASTRY: Place both sheets of the puff pastry on a clean work surface and fold them out. Take the end one-third of one sheet and add it to the end of the other sheet, pinching the edges together to form one long sheet. Arrange the mushrooms and onion carefully down the center of the long sheet of puff pastry. Spread the pate over the top of the beef and turn the beef over on top of the mushroom mixture so that the pate is on top of the mushrooms. Fold the puff pastry up and around the beef as far as it will go, and use half of the remaining smaller sheet of pastry to completely enclose the beef in a neat package. Gently pinch the edges of the pastry together where the two sheets join. Form the remaining puff pastry into thin strips and arrange on top in a crisscross lattice design, attaching to the package with beaten egg. Transfer to a baking sheet and brush the surface of the pastry with the remaining beaten egg. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
TO PREPARE PUMPKINS: Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a saucepan of salted water to cover, and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until just tender. Drain the potatoes and mash them with a fork or ricer. Add the cheese and season with salt and pepper to taste.
While the potatoes are cooking, cut the tops off the pumpkins, reserving the tops. Scoop out the seeds and strings (a grapefruit spoon works well). Fill a large saucepan with an inch or so of water and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and carefully add the pumpkins; the water should only come halfway up the sides of the pumpkins. Cover the pan with a lid and steam for about 15 minutes, or until tender; place the pumpkin lids on the pumpkins for the last 5 minutes of steaming. Remove the lids and set aside; remove the pumpkins with a slotted spoon and drain upside down on paper towels. Season the insides with salt and pepper, and fill to the top with the mashed potato mixture. Transfer to a baking sheet and set aside.
Bake the Beef Wellington in the oven for 15 minutes. Turn down the heat to 350 degrees F. and cook for 20 minutes longer or until the pastry is golden brown. Let rest for 15 minutes before serving. While the beef is cooling, bake the pumpkins in the oven for 10 minutes, until warmed through. Then, broil the pumpkins for 5 minutes in a preheated broiler, until the top of the potato is browned and a little crisp. Before serving, place the pumpkin lids a little askew on top of the stuffed pumpkins so the filling shows. Slice the Beef Wellington and serve with the pumpkins.
WINE RECOMMENDATION: The best California Cabernet Sauvignon or Grand Cru Classe Bordeaux would complete the winning formula for an exquisite occasion.
HELPFUL TIPS: Ask your butcher to trim the fat and silver the skin from the tenderloin and make sure the side muscle is removed. Foie gras gives this dish a delicious richness, but you may certainly omit it, or substitute a thin layer of Dijon mustard. If you prefer, you may roll out one sheet of puff pastry to wrap the beef; it will need to be thinner than if you use the two sheets called for in this recipe.
Recipe reprinted by permission of Harper Collins. All rights reserved.