Monday, December 19, 2011

Beef Wellington

With great trepidation, I tried my hand at this extraordinary dish a few months ago. I needn’t have worried. because it turned out perfectly! I made two Beef Wellingtons last weekend, and they were excellent, too! So now I feel confident enough to pass along what is an admittedly intricate recipe, but one that’s not as difficult as you might think. One proviso: Mortgage the house, Dollinks! This famous recipe is pricey. If beef tenderloin isn’t in your budget, tuck this recipe aside for a later occasion, because it’s a keeper.

Beef Wellington is a splurge not only because it’s costly to make, but also because many of us don’t consume red meat as often as we once did. For those reasons as well as the extra time this dish requires, I’d list it under the decadently delicious category of “gourmet.”
However, if you’d like a memorable option to turkey and ham this holiday season, consider this delectable dish! I guarantee you’ll feel an overwhelming sense of pride and accomplishment as you present this beautiful dish at the table and everyone tucks in!
As with anything else that seems a little complicated, preparing Beef Wellington is a simple matter of taking things one step at a time. I’m going to try my best to make this recipe as easy to follow as I possibly can. Please read the entire recipe through before you begin. If anything puzzles you or seems unclear, drop me an e-mail or leave a comment under the recipe. I’ll respond in a day or two. As always, if you’d like to see any photo in greater detail, just click on it. 
Beef Wellington has five components: The best fillet of beef you can afford, a thin layer of paté over that, a thin layer of mushrooms “Duxelles” over the paté, a puff pastry casing, and a thin, richly flavored broth (“au jus”) served on the side. Take it easy and take it slowly: Prepare, cover, and refrigerate the Paté and the Duxelles up to a day in advance. 
Yesterday’s blog featured two Paté recipes, either of which is suitable for preparing Beef Wellington. To make Duxelles, use the recipe I gave you last summer (see Phyllo-Wrapped Chicken and Duxelles, July 15, 2011), or the one I’ll give you today. The Duxelles and Paté recipes are posted just below this Beef Wellington recipe. The photos show that I made a total of three Wellingtons in testing this recipe, but the recipe quantities I’ve given you are sufficient for one. And so to begin! 
Beef Wellington:

To Prepare the Beef Filet:

2-½ lb. (1 kg) beef tenderloin
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp. oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a cast iron frying pan over high heat, sear unseasoned beef fillet 5-to-7 min. in butter and oil. Turn the meat using tongs, rather than a fork. When meat is well seared, season to taste, remove from pan, cover, and chill, reserving and refrigerating pan juices and fat.

To Prepare the Paté and the Duxelles: 
See recipes below this post. Using fingers, spread 2-to-3 oz. (about ⅓-to-½ c.) prepared, chilled Paté thinly and evenly over chilled beef. Press Duxelles into Paté. Cover lightly and chill.
To Prepare the Pastry Casing:
1 - 14 oz. (397 g) pkg. frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 egg yolk, beaten
Preheat oven to 450 deg. F. Roll puff pastry very thinly. Center beef fillet on a narrow sheet of pastry. Roll out second, broader sheet also very thinly, placing over top and ensuring pastry drapes to bottom of meat on all sides. Pinch pastry edges tightly to seal. Lightly press a knife handle from the top center to sides of pastry, making diagonal indents as decoration. Cut a few diagonal slits in top crust to match indents and allow steam to escape. Dip pastry brush into beaten yolk, dabbing over top and sides of pastry. Transfer fillet to baking dish. Bake 10-to-15 min. Reduce heat to 425 deg. F. Bake 20-to-25 min. further, until pastry turns golden brown. Keep meat warm and allow to rest 10-to-15 min. while making the “jus.”
To Prepare the Broth or “Jus”:
Reserved pan juices and fat 
1 - 10 oz. (284 mL) can beef broth
2 tbsp. red wine
Combine first two “au jus” ingredients over high heat in small saucepan. Boil 10 min., until slightly reduced. Stir in wine. Strain and serve at the table, alongside beef.
Note: Our dining room table is small. We like to “present” Beef Wellington to our guests (you think we eat this way every day, Dollinks?) before slicing it in the kitchen. We also prefer our beef medium-rare. If youre concerned that the time in the oven isn’t enough, remember that the meat will continue to cook in its pastry casing as it rests on the kitchen counter. Don’t overcook this dish! Beef Wellington should always be served pink at the center.

Begin with the best cut of tenderloin you can afford
Sear beef fillet on all sides in hot pan 5-to-7 min.

Cover and chill beef fillet (I made two), Duxelles, and pan juices
Bake until pastry turns golden brown

Present to the table before slicing and serving

Further Note: TV chef Gordon Ramsay has another way of making this dish. You’ll find it at
I tried Ramsay’s recipe several months ago, and am attaching the photos of my preparation of his version, in which he substitutes prosciutto for paté. I must admit, I found Ramsay’s recipe and his instructions for wrapping the meat with prosciutto and Duxelles a little difficult. Regardless, the recipe’s out there on the Internet, ready for you to try for yourselves. 

With no paté to baste lean meat, Ramsay's
version requires basting with olive oil
In Ramsay's version, I spread the duxelles over the meat  ...
... And draped the meat with prosciutto
Slipping away with cello wrap, center meat on pastry
I fussed, trying for perfection! 
I brushed a little yolk inside, to adhere pastry seams
Present meat to guests
Present sliced meat ... Ramsay's version was on the rare side

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