Beef Wellington is one of those dishes that is hard to beat as a classy dinner such as Christmas, New Years, Anniversaries or other special occasions. It’s got the wow factor. It looks great, tastes great and is loved by all. It may be expensive because we are using one of the most expensive cuts of beef and it may not be the easiest to make but when the occasion calls for it, it’s all worth it. So let’s get to it. A few things to note. You may need to order the meat ahead from your butcher. If you can’t find ready made cooked walnuts, skip them or substitute with cashews or pine nuts. If anyone in the dinner party is allergic to nuts, skip them altogether or substitute with shallots. For the mushroom Duxelles, I use cremini. You also can use portobello mushrooms or then white button mushrooms if you prefer a more subtle taste.
Classy Beef Wellington
- 450 g (1 lb) cremini mushrooms
- 100 g (3.5 oz) cooked chestnuts
- 2-4 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves only
- 900 g (2 lb) piece beef tenderloin fillet, centre cut, trimmed
- Salt coarse, kosher, sea
- Pepper fresh, ground
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 8-12 slices of prosciutto
- 500 g (1 lb) puff pastry, all butter, ready made
- flour to dust
- 2 egg yolks lightly beaten with 1tbsp water (egg wash)
- If tenderloin is tied, leave tied. If not, tie with butcher string in 4 places to hold its shape while searing.
- Season with salt and pepper
- Heat olive oil in large frying pan to high heat, add fillet and quickly sear on all sides including ends until evenly browned. Transfer to a plate and while still hot, brush with Dijon mustard all over, then set aside to rest.
- To make the Duxelles, put the washed and trimmed mushrooms in a food processor. Add chestnuts, garlic and a bit of salt and pepper. Pulse processor until you obtain a finely chopped mixture.
- Heat up a large dry frying pan and add the mushrooms. Add the thyme leaves and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, driving off the moisture until most of it has evaporated. Spread out on a tray to cool off.
- On a clean surface, roll out a good 50 cm (18 in.) of cling wrap. Place prosciutto on wrap, overlapping each piece in such a way as to form a rectangle that will completely wrap the fillet with the Duxelles and the prosciutto. As an example, a fillet of 8 cm in diameter and of 16 cm in length would need a rectangle of about 20 cm wide by 25 cm long. Don’t skimp here. Make good overlaps in both axis and give a couple of extra cm in both directions and ensure there are no gaps. 2 rows of 4 pieces is usually perfect for a fillet this size.
- Season the prosciutto with fresh ground pepper, then spread the Duxelles evenly on top leaving a gap of about 2 – 2.5 cm along the edges.
- Place the fillet in the middle of the rectangle.
- Grab the cling wrap at the edge in front and slowly start to pull up and wrap it and the prosciutto layer over top of the fillet and keep rolling until you have a nice tight barrel shape making sure no cling wrap gets trapped between the fillet and the prosciutto. Grab the ends of the cling wrap and twist them really tight and secure. Place in refrigerator for 20 min. to let it set up.
- Now roll out the pastry dough on a lightly flour dusted surface. Again, make a rectangle large enough to wrap the beef and keeping it about 5 mm thick. Brush lightly with egg wash, unwrap the fillet and place it in the middle of the rectangle. Use your judgement to trim off any extra dough but making sure you have enough. Wrap the pastry around the beef, overlapping the edge along the length of the fillet and pressing to seal. Pinch the dough at the ends to seal and trim as necessary.
- Wrap the log tightly in cling wrap, again twisting the end to make a firm log and refrigerate for 10 min. (overnight if making ahead.
- Preheat the oven to 190°C (180 convection). Remove the cling wrap from the filet and brush with egg wash. With the back of a small knife, score the pastry lightly in a decorative pattern if you wish (see the image above for an example) and place it on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt, the bake for about 40 min. If the pastry is browning up to quickly, reduce the temperature 5 or 10°C. You should end up with the meat at medium rare. If you or your guests like the meat well done, cook longer.
- When done, rest the Wellington for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.
- Cut into thick slices (4 – 5 cm) and serve with your sides of choice.
Recipe loosely based on Gordon Ramsey’s found in this book: