Named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, some people suggest this was created to satisfy his love of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine, and pâté, cooked in pastry.
Whatever the reason for the creation of this impeccable dish, it makes a very impressive main course for a special occasion dinner party.
Although this beef Wellington recipe is fairly time consuming to prepare, almost all of the preparation can be done well in advance, with only the final baking left to the last moment.
Gourmet food........the EASY way!
1 x 3lb (1.35kg) fillet of beef (tenderloin)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1oz (30g) unsalted butter
salt and freshly milled black pepper
6oz (175g) pâté de foie gras
4 ready prepared pancakes
1 small egg, beaten
1lb (450g) puff pastry
MUSHROOM STUFFING (DUXELLE)
2oz (55g) unsalted butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
8oz (220g) flat black mushrooms, finely chopped
3 tablespoons heavy (double) cream
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and freshly milled black pepper
MADEIRA & TRUFFLE JUS
¾ cup (6 fl.oz) Madeira wine
¾ cup (6 fl.oz) beef broth (stock)
2 tablespoons finely chopped black truffles
knob of unsalted butter
bunch watercress, washed
* Pâté de foie gras (goose liver pâté) and black truffles can be obtained from specialty, gourmet food shops like Dean & Deluca, New York or Fortnum & Mason, London.
* If you find this beef Wellington recipe a little too extravagant, cost savings can be made by substituting the pâté de foie gras with a smooth chicken liver pâté, and omitting the black truffles.
* It really isnt necessary to make the pancakes, puff pastry or beef broth (stock) as the ready made varieties bought in supermarkets are perfectly adequate.
* If you are not able to obtain Madeira wine, substitute red wine instead.
The first step in this beef Wellington recipe is to prepare the stuffing (Duxelle). This can be prepared up to 2 days in advance when covered and stored in the refrigerator.
* Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the chopped onion. sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until soft and golden.
* Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté until all of the moisture evaporates.
* Now add the cream and season well with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Continue to cook over a low heat until it has reduced to a thick pureé.
* Finally, remove from the heat, mix in the chopped parsley and allow to cool completely before refrigerating until required.
PREPARE THE BEEF
Although this stage of my beef Wellington recipe requires a little time and patience, its not difficult......and can be completed up to 2 hours before baking!
* Heat the olive oil and butter in a large frying pan.
* Season the beef fillet with salt and freshly milled black pepper. Place in the hot pan and brown on all sides over a high heat. This should only take 3 to 4 minutes.
* Remove the beef from the pan and allow to cool completely. Reserve the juices (not the fat) from the cooking pan and any from the beef as it rests, for the jus later.
* On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to an oblong big enough to fit the fillet (about 1/8 inch, 3mm thick). Lay 2 pancakes on top of the pastry, overlapping slightly.
* Spread a strip of pâté across the centre of the pastry, the same width as the beef fillet.
* Spread the mushroom stuffing over the top of the pâté.
* Place the beef on top of the stuffing and push down gently to settle it into the mix.
* Place the 2 remaining pancakes over the top of the beef.
* Cut away the middle of the ends of the pastry and brush all edges with some beaten egg. Now carefully fold the pastry up to completely envelope the beef, tucking in the ends neatly.
* Carefully turn the parcel over onto a buttered, large baking tray.
* With a tip of a sharp knife make 4 or 5 small incisions in the pastry. Decorate the top with pastry leaves cut out of the trimmings. Refrigerate, uncovered for at least 30 minutes.
To save valuable time later, the above stage for this beef Wellington recipe can be completed up to 2 hours before baking.
BAKE THE BEEF FILLET
* Preheat the oven to 450F/230C/gas mark 8.
* Remove the beef from the refrigerator and brush all over with the beaten egg.
* Bake the beef fillet at the high heat for 10 minutes. Then turn the heat down to 375F/190C/gas mark 5 for a further 20 to 25 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.
* Remove from the oven and leave to relax (uncovered) for 10 to 15 minutes.
PREPARE THE MADEIRA JUS
(this can be done while the beef is baking)
* In a saucepan, bring to the boil the reserved juices from the beef pan with the Madeira and beef broth (stock).
* Simmer gently until reduced by half. Add the finely chopped truffles (if using them), and bring back to simmering for 2 minutes.
* Take the pan off the heat and add a knob of butter. Shake the pan gently until the butter melts and gives a shine to the sauce.
* Season to taste.
Cut the beef into thick slices and arrange on warm plates. Pour over a little of the Madeira Jus and garnish with a generous sprig of fresh watercress.
This beef Wellington recipe is so rich and complex, it barely requires a potato accompaniment. However, if you are a potato fan, I suggest serving it with buttered new potatoes and perhaps some French beans.
Also featured on this site is my recipe for Fillet of Pork Wellington This is an interesting alternative to using beef and is enhanced by a delicious black pudding farce between the meat & pastry!