Impressive Beef Wellington
This exquisite dish is perfect for a special occasion. There is a fair amount of work involved, but it is worth it to make this spectacular recipe. You can make it ahead too if you like, up to 24 hours before baking in fact. Beef wellington is fillet steak coated in a mushroom mixture, and then wrapped in puff pastry. Some recipes wrap the beef in prosciutto or similar to stop the pastry from becoming soggy and keep the beef moist. You can either cook the beef wellington in one big piece and then cut it up to serve, or else cut it into slices before baking. Serve it with mashed potatoes and vegetables, for an impressive dinner.
The history of beef wellington is unclear. It is believed it might have been a British reinvention of bœuf en croûte, a French dish, the recipe slightly altered and given an English name. There are no 1800s recipes for the dish, although ‘fillet of beef, a la Wellington’ was featured in the LA Times in 1903. It might even have been named after Wellington in New Zealand, or have some connection with the English Duke of Wellington. No one knows for sure.
You can chop the mushrooms in a food processor or by hand. If you use a food processor, pulse-chop them, else you will end up with a slurry instead of breadcrumb-sized pieces of mushrooms. We like to use chestnut mushrooms along with some wild mushrooms in the mix too. We are also using thyme, white wine, prosciutto and more, for a truly gourmet flavour in every mouthful.
- 2 lb 4 oz (1 kg) Aberdeen Angus, tenderloin or similar good quality beef fillet
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 9 oz (250g) chestnut mushrooms (or chestnut mushrooms and wild mushrooms)
- 2 oz (50g) butter
- 1 large sprig or 2 small sprigs of fresh thyme
- 3½ fl oz (100ml) dry white wine
- 12 slices prosciutto
- 1lb 2oz (500g) fresh or thawed puff pastry
- 2 egg yolks beaten with 1 teaspoon water
- All-purpose flour (plain flour), as needed
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
- Put the beef on a roasting tray and brush a tablespoon of oil over it, then grind over some salt and pepper.
- Roast for 15 minutes if you want medium-rare, or 20 if you prefer medium.
- Let the beef cool, then chill it for 20 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Chop the mushrooms as finely as you can.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil with the butter in a skillet.
- Sauté the mushrooms with thyme in the skillet, stirring often, for 10 minutes or until soft.
- Add some salt and pepper, along with the wine.
- Cook for 10 minutes or until the wine has been absorbed.
- Let the mushroom mixture cool and discard the thyme.
- Overlap a couple of pieces of plastic wrap (Clingfilm) on a chopping board.
- Put 12 prosciutto slices, overlapping, on the plastic wrap, in a double row.
- Spread half the mushrooms over the prosciutto, then add the beef followed by the remaining mushrooms.
- Use the plastic wrap to get the prosciutto wrapped around the meat.
- You want to get it into a sausage shape and twist the plastic wrap ends as you work.
- Chill the beef while you work on the pastry.
- Sprinkle a little flour on a chopping board, then roll out ⅓ of the pastry to a 12 x 7 inch (30 x 18 cm) strip.
- Put it on a non-stick baking sheet.
- Roll out the rest of the pastry to 14 x 11 inches (36 x 28 cm).
- Discard the plastic wrap from the beef, then put it in the middle of the small pastry piece.
- Brush the pastry edges, and the top and sides of the beef with ⅔ of the egg yolk mixture.
- Now put the larger piece of pastry on top, using a rolling pin to pick it up first.
- Press it into the sides, then trim the edges to a 2 inch (5 cm) rim, which you can seal with a spoon handle or fork edge.
- Use the rest of the egg yolk to glaze the beef wellington all over.
- Chill it for between half an hour and 24 hours.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) and brush a little more egg yolk over it.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for medium-rare or 30 minutes for medium.
- Let it stand for 10 minutes, then cut into thick slices to serve.
Few dishes are as impressive as beef wellington, and it is exciting enough to make for a special occasion. Why not make it 24 hours ahead and then you can relax until popping it in the oven the following day? We are using a good quality piece of beef, and then making a mushroom layer with white wine and thyme flavours too. Then we have prosciutto and finally plenty of puff pastry. The resulting pie is baked in the oven until golden brown and really appealing, then you can slice it and serve it with potatoes and vegetables.
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