Beef Wellington. Even it’s name is a bit stuffy. As for haughty cuisine, I place it in the same class as oysters Rockefeller, beef bourguigon, Caesar salad, and baked Alaska. We also assume it’s a dish only that only the well-heeled and well-to-do can afford. I’ve seen it described as ritzy and swank, and my personal favorite descriptors have been highfalutin and fancy-schmancy.
It’s basically a steak fillet covered with pate de foie gras, then wrapped in pastry and baked. The beef [tenderloin] is seared, then topped with either foie gras, and/or duxelles (a mince of mushrooms blended with additional ingredients such as onions, shallots, garlic, and parsley). It can then be covered with thin strips of prosciutto (optional). It’s enveloped in a puff pastry and finished in the oven. This is a busy recipe and one that is not easy to assemble.
Beef Wellington can be cooked in individual servings. Most recipes prefer the meat stay in its original cut. Cooking in this manner will keep the juices intact and the each serving will be juicier.
If you are getting tired of the annual Turkey & dressing or a prime rib roast, this is a great alternative. Also think of the snob factor to say you will be serving beef Wellington during the holidays. For the recipe click on “beef Wellington” and scroll down past the narrative.
So how did it get its exotic name? Arthur Wellesley (The First Duke of Wellington) was a war hero in 1815 after winning the Battle of Waterloo. He had a personal chef who wanted to honor him be creating a special dish. His boss wasn’t terribly fond of food of any kind. There was one meal he always served his guests consisting of beef, mushrooms, pate, and wine. It was cooked in a loaf shaped pastry, and according to many sources was his favorite meal. This is similar to a French dish, filet de boeuf en croute. It was renamed to honor the Duke of Wellington.
Beef Wellington became a popular dish in the 1950s. As a matter of fact, it was reported to be Richard Nixon’s favorite meal. Actually it was more frequently reported that cottage cheese mixed with ketchup was his favorite meal. Now that sounds more like Nixon.
1/2 oz.Porcini mushrooms dried (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cupWater boiling
2-3 lb.Beef tenderloin roast center cut, trimmed
As neededSalt kosher
As neededPepper black ground
2Shallots medium, finely chopped
2Garlic cloves, finely chopped
8 oz.Cremini mushrooms, trimmed, finely chopped
2 tspThyme leaves fresh finely chopped
6 oz.Pate, chicken or duck liver at room temperature
6 oz.Prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 pkgPuff pastry 14 - 16 oz.
As neededFlour all-purpose for dusting
1Egg, large lightly beaten
Prepared Ahead Of Time
- Place the porcinis in a small heatproof bowl and pour in the boiling water. Let sit until completely softened, about 30 minutes. Using a fork, transfer the porcinis to a cutting board (be careful not to disturb the gritty sediment at the bottom of the bowl). Finely chop the mushrooms and set them aside. Slowly pour the soaking liquid into a small bowl, leaving the sediment behind; set the liquid aside and discard the sediment.
- Season the beef all over with salt and pepper. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until foaming. Place the roast in the pan and brown it all over, taking care not to burn the butter, about 5 to 6 minutes total. Transfer the roast to a plate to cool.
- Melt the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in a separate medium frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for 1 minute. Add the reserved porcinis, the garlic, the reserved porcini liquid, and the cremini mushrooms and stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium high and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushroom mixture has released most of its moisture and appears dry, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, add the thyme, and stir to combine. Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.
- When the mushroom mixture has cooled, place the pâté in a medium bowl and beat with a rubber spatula until smooth. Add the mushroom mixture and stir to evenly combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Using a long metal spatula, spread half of the mushroom mixture evenly over one side of the beef roast. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap, slightly larger than the roast, horizontally on the work surface. Vertically arrange half of the prosciutto, one piece slightly overlapping the next, along the length of the plastic wrap (it should be about the same size as the roast). Place the roast mushroom-side down on the prosciutto. Spread the remaining mushroom mixture over the roast. Spread the remaining mushroom mixture over the roast.
- Lay the rest of the prosciutto slices, in the same manner as before, over the mushroom mixture. Fold up the edges of the plastic wrap and use another piece of plastic to enclose the entire roast; refrigerate.
Time: 75 Minutes
Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Cut off about one-third of the puff pastry from the sheet and roll it out on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle 1/8 inch thick and at least 1 inch larger than the base of the roast. Transfer to a baking sheet. Prick well with a fork all over and bake until brown and crisp, about 12 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pastry to a cutting board to cool, then trim it to the size of the roast. Return the pastry to the baking sheet; set aside.
Remove the roast from the refrigerator. Remove and discard the plastic wrap. Brush the roast all over with the beaten egg; reserve the remaining egg.
Roll out the remaining puff pastry on a lightly floured surface into a rectangle about 12 by 14 inches. Place the roast on top of the cooked pastry base.
Lay the rolled-out pastry over the roast. Use a spatula to lift up the pastry base, then tuck the sides of the uncooked pastry underneath the cooked pastry to seal the roast.
Brush the pastry all over with the reserved egg. Roast for 20 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400°F and continue to roast for 25 minutes more for rare to medium-rare beef, 30 to 35 minutes for medium. Remove the Wellington from the oven and let it stand for about 10 minutes before slicing.