17 Dec Beef Wellington
Beef Wellington is an iconic British dish often a featured as a centerpiece for celebratory occasions due to its elegant presentation and luxurious layers of flavor. The Wellington is comprised of a few separate components presented in a parcel of puff pastry baked to a flaky golden brown. While it isn’t the simplest preparation for a filet, the end result will prove well worth the trouble upon first bite.
This dish incorporates the filet—traditionally the center cut of the beef tenderloin or the chateaubriand. Beef tenderloin is one of the leanest steak cuts from the animal, but it takes to accompanying flavors well, which makes it the perfect choice for this preparation.
Duxelles is a mushroom “pate” made from finely chopped mushroom and shallot, with fresh thyme and parsley stirred in at the finish. Cream is sometimes used to help bind the duxelles, but it isn’t essential. This earthy, herby mixture also makes a delicious spread for crusty baguettes with a bit of fromage. It lends a richness to the inner layers of the Wellington.
There is a thin slice of Parma prosciutto that provides a salty umami to the layered flavors of the Wellington. Iberico Spanish ham could work fine, or even a country ham. As long as it is salt-cured, aged, and sliced thin, it will work. The ham will wrap around the duxelles and the filet, keeping all of the ingredients packed tightly.
The pastry dough holds it all together in a buttery, flaky “envelope.” Sure, we could spend another few hours making a perfect pastry dough to wrap our Wellington in, or you could purchase a perfectly good dough from the freezer section of your grocery store. Puff pastry is my preference because it is a bit lighter than a pie pastry dough. It’s also easy to work with, but the elasticity increases as the dough thaws, so it’s best to work quickly.
The sauce is a heavily herbed reduction of red wine and beef stock. It is best to use a homemade beef stock to benefit from all of the gelatin that will help set the viscosity of the sauce. The complexity of the sweet acidic red wine and the full bodied beef flavor of the stock will tie the whole dish together.
Making a proper Wellington is going to take a bit of time. It is a laborious process that yields maximum deliciousness so it’s worth it to see it through. Be patient and prepare to impress your dinner guests with this amazing meal.
4–6 oz beef filet (x4)
Generous amount of kosher salt and pepper
2 Tbsp olive or grapeseed oil
Season the filets generously with kosher salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet. Let the oil reach the smoke point and then sear the filets on all sides. (Searing at high heat ensures that the meat will not cook internally, just get a nice brown crust.) Set the beef aside to cool, then place in the refrigerator to cool completely.
4 oz Cremini mushrooms, chopped fine
1 Tbsp butter
1 small shallot, finely diced
1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 oz white wine
Chop the mushrooms by hand or in a food processor. Melt the butter in a skillet then cook the mushrooms until they are starting to dry out a bit. Then add the thyme, white wine and season with salt and pepper. Remove the Duxelles from a pan and spread it out on a flat pan then refrigerate until it is thoroughly cooled.
4 seared filets
½ C of Duxelles
8-10 pieces of cured ham, sliced very thin.
Lay a sheet of plastic film wrap onto a cutting board. Lay two pieces of ham down on the wrap and spoon one ounce of Duxelles onto the ham. Place a seared filet on top of the Duxelles and wrap the ham around the beef filet. Wrap tightly with the film wrap and repeat with the rest of the ingredients. Once all the filets are wrapped with ham and Duxelles, place them in the freezer for thirty minutes.
Red Wine Sauce
4 oz beef scrap
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 large shallots, diced
1 750 mL bottle of red wine
3 C Beef stock
2 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic, crushed
10 black peppercorns
In a large sauce pot, heat the oil and sear the beef scrap until deep brown. Add the shallots and cook until they start to caramelize. Add the red wine and bring to a boil, then reduce until the wine has almost completely evaporated. Add the beef stock and the rest of the ingredients. Reduce the sauce until it reaches the desired consistency, this will take about an hour, and then strain it through a fine mesh sieve and set aside
4 Ham wrapped filets
4 4 oz sheets of puff pastry
Pull the puff pastry from the freezer about ten minutes before assembling the Wellington. It is best to work on a lightly floured surface. Remove the ham wrapped filets from the freezer and remove the plastic wrap from the meat. Place the meat in the center of the puff pastry sheet and brush egg wash on the corners of the pastry dough. Fold the dough around the meat and pinch the dough together at the seam until it looks like a uniform sheet. Repeat the process with the other three and then wrap them all with film wrap and set them in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the Wellington with the egg wash and place on a greased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the puff pastry reaches a golden brown. Remove from the oven and let them rest for 8 minutes. Spoon a couple of ounces of the sauce into the middle of the plate and place the Wellington directly on top of the sauce. Spoon more over the pastry if desired.
Sit back and admire all of your hard work before you dig in.