The Perfect Beef WellingtonThursday, November 14
There are few pleasures in life that I enjoy more than the opportunity to play, get creative and take liberty with classic dishes.
Sometimes though, a dish is so good in its classic form that it deserves the respect of leaving it as is. One such dish is Beef Wellington. The combination of tender roasted beef filet, topped with mushroom duxelle and foie gras pate, all enveloped in delectably flaky puff pastry is so perfect that it really doesn’t require any manipulation.
So when a follower reached out through social media asking for me to share my recipe for beef wellington I felt obliged to share, but I will be the first to admit my recipe probably won’t stray all that far from the traditional recipe from decades ago.
There are four basic elements that make up every wellington dish and they are the puff pastry, the beef tenderloin, the mushrooms, and the foie gras pate. Each element brings its own unique addition to the flavour party that happens with this dish.
Let’s start with the puff pastry. This ever so delicate and flaky pastry is the pinnacle of pastry dough. It requires a high degree of skill and a fair amount of patience to prepare. The process involves layering fat, preferably butter in between the layers of dough. The dough is then rolled out and folded, rested, turned and then repeated. This principle creates several thin layers of dough separated by fat. When cooked the water trapped in the layers of fat create steam, separating each layer, creating a light and flaky dough.
If you want to attempt the daunting task of making your own puff pastry from scratch, by all means, go ahead. I won’t bore you with the step by step instructions of how to put it together yourself, but I have shared a link to Martha Stewart’s recipe with detailed instructions. Who better to teach you after all.
If you don’t want to strain through the painstaking process of making it, there is no shame in buying it, just take the time to find a frozen product made with butter rather than margarine or shortening. It is far superior product, with a nice delicate flake and better flavour. Make sure to take it out of the freezer and temper it about 20-30 minutes prior to kneading it.
There is no room for shortcutting with the beef, as this will be the star of the dish. Use only tenderloin. I recommend using at least a AAA quality steak, with great marbling, but my preference is to use Heritage Angus Beef, because not only is it well marbled, but it is hormone and antibiotic free.
When it comes to the mushrooms, there’s not much to it. Some chefs use portabellas and other use criminis. My preference is to use a standard button mushroom. Take the time to chop the mushrooms fine by hand. It’s good practice for your knife skills!
The final element is where I tend to stray the most. Most classic recipes call for foie gras pate. I prefer to slice off a generous slab of foie gras and lay it right on top of the beef and let the goodness melt right in.
Now that we have broken this classic dish down, let’s get to work with the recipe. Keep in mind I am doing this recipe based on having your puff pastry ready for you
Classic Beef Wellington
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Feeds: 4 people
1.5 lbs. centre cut beef tenderloin
You have two options here, you can do 4 individual 6 oz. portions or prepare it whole and slice once roasted
2 Tbsp. canola oil
2 cups button mushrooms
2 Tbsp. shallots, minced
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
4 Tbsp. clarified butter or canola oil
4 oz. foie gras, deveined and sliced thinly into four
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
¼ cup milk
12 oz. puff pastry, or one large sheet if serving whole
Salt and pepper to taste
Mince the mushrooms into a small dice
Place a pan on medium heat, melt the butter, add the shallots and garlic and sauté, then quickly add the mushrooms and sauté
Season with salt and pepper, finish with fresh thyme and set aside to cool
Crack the eggs into a bowl with the milk, whisk vigorously to combine
Ensure the beef is cleaned of all excess fat and silverskin, if choosing to serve in separate portions cut into four even sizes
Heat another pan to high heat
Season the beef on all sides with salt and pepper and sear in the hot pan on all sides
Set aside to cool
Roll out the puff pastry to about ¼ inch thick, lightly dusting with flour to ensure it doesn’t stick to your work surface, consider whether you are using individual portions or a piece. This is no different to wrapping a present, you will need your pastry portions to be large enough to completely envelope the beef
Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the beef with the mustard on all sides
Spread the mushrooms out on the bottom of the centre of the puff pastry, then add the foie gras, and lastly, place the beef
Brush all of the exposed puff pastry with the egg wash and then begin to fold up like a present, slice away any excess pastry with a paring knife
Place the beef on a baking sheet, lined with parchment and refrigerate until the pastry dough is firm and cool again, at least 15-20 minutes
Preheat the oven to 425F
Remove the wellington from the fridge, using a sharp knife gently place several thin slits along the top of the pastry to allow the steam to be released from the wellington as it bakes
Brush the top of the wellington with the egg wash and place in the oven to bake
Bake until medium rare in the centre, about 20-25 minutes, but I HIGHLY recommend using a meat thermometer and cooking it to 135-140F internally
Remove from oven and let it rest for 3-5 minutes, and then slice in half to serve
I like to serve this with some roasted potatoes and a green peppercorn jus, but I have seen it served with just about everything!