September 22nd, 2009

Wellington

Classic Beef Wellington

The classic Beef Wellington, what a stunner of a dish! It’s almost like a complete meal as you have the carbohydrate, protein, sauce and vegetable all in one, I think this makes a party pretty special.

I suppose that some people may beg to differ and argue that the classic Beef Wellington should be large and then ceremoniously carved in a spectacular manner at the dinner table.

I have chosen to make individual ones as I do not like the mess associated with carving the Wellington into portions. I also dislike cold food and believe once it’s served it should be enjoyed immediately.

It’s not completely clear exactly where the Beef Wellington originated from, some says it’s a borrowed and recreated dish from the French “filet de bœuf en croûte“. It does not really matter as it’s spectacular and is bound to be the talking point of any dinner party. You might have seen the word ‘Wellington’ used as a descriptive word for variations of this dish using other proteins such as salmon, lamb or chicken.

I love what I do for a living! Not one day is the same, today I had do create and test this recipe for a posh dinner party that’s coming up for a group of  Americans who will be in town soon, last week I recreated Julia Child’s omelette and next week I’m hosting a training and cooking day for a group of young and enthusiastic chefs. I love my job as I eat my way through everyday, bliss!

Originally I planned to make this Beef Wellington as close to the traditional way as possible with a chicken liver pate, creamy mushroom duxelle and a pancake. Distracted by the phone ringing and with the fridge bursting at its seams I completely forgot about the pate and the pancake. Well it was not a complete disaster as it turned out spectacularly well without the pate or the pancake. I found that if the tray is heated in the oven before you bake the Wellington it seals the pastry, helps it cook from the bottom and delivers a well cooked piece of beef with a crispy  pastry bottom, great!

Only the very best ingredients will do for this recipe and for that reason I made my own rough puff pastry. I bought Aberdeen Angus fillet of beef and went to town to get the mushrooms of my choice. I literally went to London’s Borough market to buy the girolles, I’m pleased that I went to all that trouble as it’s well worth it and I know the Americans will love it too.

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Girolle mushrooms also known as chanterelles are a perfect specimen and I have been very privileged to use them through out my career, their flavour is earthy and they are in season right now. Yesterday we went for a walk in the nearby forest , with one eye on the dog and one eye on the floor looking  for the the first mushrooms. As we have not had any rain for quite sometime the forest is dry and the mushrooms are scarce. The hopes to find a truffle or two were soon dashed, no luck I’m afraid, so I had to opt for the bottle of truffle oil hidden at the back of the larder, not bad though!

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Mushrooms A La Crème

  • 40g oyster mushrooms, ripped
  • 40g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
  • 40g shitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 40g girolles mushrooms cut in ¼’s
  • 1 banana shallot, diced
  • 1tbs unsalted butter
  • 50ml white wine
  • 80ml double cream
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1tsp Truffle oil (optional)

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with the butter, once the butter starts to foam add the mushrooms and season. Sauté the mushrooms and chopped shallot until golden brown and drain on kitchen paper.

Wipe the pan clean and return to the heat, return the golden brown mushroom and shallot to the pan and add the white wine, cook until the wine has evaporated and left the mushrooms with a gloss.

Add the cream and reduce until thickened and coating the mushrooms, stir in the chopped thyme and truffle oil.

Let the mushrooms cool whilst preparing the rest of the dish.

Wellington

  • 600g Home Made Rough Puff Pastry
  • 1 egg, cracked and whisked
  • 1tsp poppy seeds
  • 4 x 100g fillet steaks, cut even in sizes
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 1tbs unsalted butter
  • 1tbs sunflower oil
  • Mushrooms a la crème

Heat a large non-stick frying pan with the oil; pat the beef fillet dry with kitchen paper and season well all over.

Seal the fillet of beef on all sides, do this quickly as you only want to seal the meat and give it some colour, drop the butter into the pan whilst the beef is colouring to add extra flavour, drain on kitchen paper.

Bring a medium saucepan with seasoned water to the boil, dunk the spinach in and refresh immediately in ice cold water. Let the spinach drain in a colander, set aside.

Roll the pastry out ,3mm thick, on a lightly floured work surface and cut 8 x 12 cm disks of pastry. Whisk the egg and get a pastry brush ready.

Place 4 disks of the pastry on a lined baking tray, place one piece of beef  in the middle of each disk.

Squeeze the cooled blanched spinach between your fingers to remove any excess water.

Divide the spinach in four and place the spinach on top of each piece of beef, followed by a generous spoonfulof mushrooms a la crème.

Brush the pastry around the beef with the whisked egg wash and place another disk over the mushrooms to cover the Wellington.

Without stretching or lifting up the whole Wellington , just raise the sides of the bottom pastry and gently press the edges together, press to crimp the edges. Your Wellington will look like a space ship.

Brush the top of the Wellington with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with the poppy seeds.

Leave the Wellingtons to rest for 30 minutes in the fridge before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 200°C, place the baking tray in the oven to got, transfer the Wellingtons to the hot tray in the oven and bake them for 20 - 22 minutes. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Food Fanatics Tip

Do not roll the pastry too thick; if the pastry is too thick your beef will be over cooked by the time your pastry is cooked. Make the Wellingtons one day in advance for a dinner party, keep them refrigerated. The choice of mushrooms is entirely up to you I have chosen to use girolles as they are in season and I love them, I have also chosen the shiitake mushrooms as I like their meaty and natural garlicky flavour. You could use only one type of mushroom if that suits you. The truffle oil is entirely optional, I add it for that little tough of luxury!


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8 Comments to “Classic Beef Wellington”

  1. Laura says:

    I made these wonderful Wellingtons for a family party a few weeks ago and they went down a storm, they looked and tasted exquisite and the beef cooked perfectly…do roll out the pastry thinly!

    Madalene, thank you for your beautiful recipes and photos, recently they have inspired my passion for cooking and expanding my culinary skills, and have given me a re-think for my future. Quite an achievement for a wellington and a chocolate salami!

  2. Max says:

    Lovely reciepe i’m yet to try this beef wellington, but it does look yummy, I’ll probably cook this for the family as we have just booked a http:///www.holidaycottages.net and this would be the best opportunity to cook this and see what we all make of it :)

  3. Steve says:

    I cooked it for my wife on St. Valentines day. She loved it!

    It’s a great recipe. Much better than using pate, which can be too rich.

    Roll the pastry as thin as you can.

  4. johanna says:

    i am going to make a special dinner for my son and his girl
    [it's her birthday, and i suspect he is going to propose]
    this will be perfect celebration dinner, especially with
    individual portions, and keeping in fridge overnight.
    i can bring them in a cooler-they live an hour away.

    thankyou, as always. i enjoy reading your posts alot;
    even if i dont try all the dishes, they are so beautifully
    presented. and i love reading the blog.
    being an alone mom-at-home i am not as ambitious
    a cook as i was in younger days, but i can dream!
    vty, johanna

  5. Gloria says:

    I love this. Look awesome, and nice, gloria

  6. Lizzie says:

    Wow – it does look very neat and tidy. I made two beef wellingtons for a recipe test and it was very messy indeed, but I found it perfect to get it as rare as I like when cooking a large lump of meat.

  7. bill ruddell says:

    Madaleine
    What do you put under the wellys, looks like some sort of paper. Or is it ok to put direct on non stick baking tray?
    Bill

  8. Barry says:

    Totally agree with you that it is a wow dish… only problem is getting the puff paste to cook through without overcooking the fillet… instead of the pancake I have use the stomach lining ( crepinette) .. makes it much richer and less heavier

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