Beef what? Beef Wellington! I know when looking for culinary inspiration, English food (From England) is not normally our go-to place, but this dish is absolutely showstopping. When I think of the essence of gourmet cooking, Beef Wellington is the first dish that comes to mind.
I’ll be clear up front: this is not a simple dish to prepare. In fact, this is a very complex dish to prepare, not only to balance the flavors correctly, but also to assemble beautifully. If you’ve never made Beef Wellington, I don’t suggest trying it for Christmas dinner if you’ve never made it before! Maybe New Years? Pick a Saturday you have lots of time and no company coming, and take your time.
Simply put, Beef Wellington is beef tenderloin (larger version of filet mignon) with delicious herbs and mushrooms, wrapped in puff pastry and baked. In the original version there is pate, a paste made from the liver of either duck or chicken. I don’t prefer liver or duck, so I don’t use a pate. In my version which was inspired by Tyler Florence, I use beef tenderloin, good Dijon mustard, a Duxelles (fancy french word for a mixture of mushrooms, shallots, thyme and garlic), prosciutto ham and puff pastry. The beef gets coated with Dijon mustard and wrapped with the Duxelles and prosciutto and then enveloped in puff pastry and baked to perfection. I serve it with a shallot and garlic brown gravy, mashed potatoes and a collard and butternut squash salad with a tangy lemon mustard vinaigrette. Bon appetit!
2 lb beef tenderloin, trimmed and tied
1 lb white button mushrooms, cleaned (don’t ever wash mushrooms, they absorb the water. Instead use a clean sponge or paper towel and brush any dirt off the mushrooms)
3 shallots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, divided
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Salt & Pepper
6 oz prosciutto ham, about 10-15 slices
1 lb puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
To make the Duxelles, slightly chop the mushrooms and add mushrooms, shallots, 1 tbsp thyme leaves, chopped garlic and 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a steel blade. If you don’t have a food processor, dice the mushrooms and shallots as finely as you possibly can and combine with minced garlic, thyme and salt and pepper. In a large skillet, melt the butter and add the Duxelles. Saute over medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms release their liquid and it cooks off. The mixture will be fully cooked, thick and chunky with little or no water. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, pat the beef dry with paper towels, lightly brush with vegetable oil and season heavily with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet until it’s smoking hot and sear the beef on all sides for 2 minutes per side. Remove from the skillet and let cool slightly. While the meat cools, prepare the prosciutto and Duxelles.
Place a large sheet of plastic wrap flat on the counter. In a continuous manner, lay the proscuitto in a rectangle on the plastic big enough to cover the entire beef tenderloin.
Gently spread the Duxelles over the proscuitto and sprinkle with remaining 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves.
Place the beef towards one side of the proscuitto and Duxelles and use the plastic to tightly wrap the beef with the mixture. Using another sheet of plastic, tightly wrap the beef and allow to chill for 1-2 hours.
Chilling will not only help the proscuitto and Duxelles to stick to the beef, but will start flavoring the beef. When ready to start preparing, preheat an oven to 425F. Remove the beef from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature for 1 hour.
On a floured board, roll out puff pastry to 1/4″ thickness, pressing two sheets together to form a large rectangle. Whisk the egg and paint the edges of the puff pastry with the egg. Gently roll the beef in the puff pastry lengthwise, enveloping it completely. The egg will seal the pastry tightly. Sprinkle with sea salt and place in a baking dish. Bake the beef for 40 minutes for rare, 50-60 minutes for medium-well done. Remove from the oven, cover and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Place on a large wood board and carve table side with a carving knife. Your guests will be amazed! Bon appetit!