Beef Wellington – A Christmas tradition

This great “occasion” meal takes a little planning.  The biggest challenge is to figure out what to do when.  Since this is isn’t an everyday meal and we usually have it when we have company and things are rather chaotic, I have learned through the years that it is a good idea to read over the recipe carefully a couple of days before and make sure all ingredients are in the house and that I write out a time-table. It helps me to make a little flow sheet of when I am going to do things or I will leave something out!

The actual in the oven time is about 40 minutes.  The Wellington should rest for about 15 minutes before it is served.  Putting it together and cooking it takes about 3 hours.  Thawing the frozen pastry begins about 40 minutes before.    Figure when you will sit down to the table, and start the process 3 hours earlier.

To streamline things, the duxelles is best made the day before, but if the Wellington is for an evening meal you can safely make it in the morning. This dish has become one of our favorite Christmas noon meals so that is why  I try to make the duxelles the night before. Trimming the fillet of beef can also be done ahead of time.

Before you even THINK about making Beef Wellington, you should click on this link Gordon Ramsay’s version and watch the video.  Another good read is an article that appeared in The Wall Street Journal in 2010.  That year Hank and I followed it totally and were pleased with the results.  That recipes, like Gordon Ramsay’s version uses prosciutto also.

Ingredients: 

  1. 1 fillet of beef (5.5 pounds) discarding the butt.
  2. 4 slices of bacon
  3. 1 package of purchased puff pastry (thawed)
  4. 1 egg
  5. 1 bunch of parsley or watercress for garnish
  6. Duxelles
  7. prosciutto slices (if following Ramsay’s version)

 The Day Before

 Make de Duxelles:

  1. 4 tablespoon of olive oil
  2. 1 1/2 pound of mushrooms
  3. 1 1/4 cups shallots, chopped
  4. 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  5. 2 teaspoon salt
  6. 2 teaspoon dried thyme or 6 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  7. 1/2 cup dry white vermouth.

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  1.  Clean and coarsely chop the mushrooms and the shallots.
  2. TWO OPTIONS HERE! – mince the mushrooms and shallots by hand or use food processor.
  3. Food processor mincing:  It is best to mince the mushroom/shallot mixture in batches.  Pulse the mixture to mince all of it.  Once minced, empty that batch into a bowl and proceed with the next batch until all the mushroom/shallot mixture has been processed.
  4. Use a large, heavy skillet and with warm the oil to medium.
  5. When the oil has warmed, add the mushroom/shallot mixture, the thyme, the salt & pepper, and the vermouth and cook the mixture in the olive oil until they have absorbed all the liquid, about 6-8 minutes depending on the size of the skillet.

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  1. Cook the mixture until it has begun to stick to the sides of the skillet and the moisture is all gone and  rather dry.
  2. Place mixture in a bowl and reserve in the refrigerator.

The Day of

 3 hours before the meal Take the Duxelles out of the refrigerator so they will be at room temperature and easier to spread.

Trim the fillet of all possible fat and tuck the tail under, tying it so that it will be of uniform thickness. (This step could be done the day before)  Depending on how many people you are planning to serve, you can either include the “butt” or cut the last 3-4 inches of the fillet off.  There is a bit of gristle there.

Drape the bacon slices around the fillet and secure with either by tying it with kitchen twine or with toothpicks.

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Roast the beef in the middle of a preheated 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes each side. It should be nicely brown on the outside.

Discard the bacon and string.  If you have used toothpicks, discard them!  Allow the fillet to cool for about 30 minutes (hence starting 3 hours before the meal)

Skim the fat from the pan juices and set the roasting pan aside to make the sauce.

About 2 hours before the meal —Take out the frozen pastry to thaw

About and hour and half before the meal prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper

Make the egg wash by beating the egg with a little water added. Set aside.  You will use it to brush the pastry as well as to seal the seam.

Roll out the puff pastry to the proportions of the filet.

Spread the duxelles over the pastry leaving about a 1″ margin each side.

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Place the fillet on the middle the duxelles covered pastry and bring each side to cover the roast. Seal with some of the egg wash

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Place the Wellington seam side down on the baking dish  and brush it with an egg wash.

Bake it in a preheated 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 350 and bake it for another 10 minutes.

Remove and allow to  rest for 15 minutes before transferring to a platter.

While the Wellington is roasting,  prepare the sauce:   

Sauce

  1. 1 tablespoon flour
  2. ½ cup Madeira
  3. 1/2 cup beef broth
  4. 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 teaspoon fresh leaves
  1. Put the Madeira and the beef broth in a measuring cup.
  2. Sprinkle the flour over the pan drippings and stir to blend scrapping up pan drippings.
  3. Set on medium/low heat on stove top.
  4. The flour and pan drippings should combine to form a roux.
  5. When the roux begins to turn brown, pour the beef broth /Madeira mixture stirring all the while.
  6. Continue to stir the sauce until it thickens further (about 5 minutes). 
  7. Use a rubber spatula to scrape up the sauce and pour it into a serving bowl.

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Cut the Wellington into 8 slices

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