Like many other classic culinary creations the origins of beef wellington are completely unclear. There are theories that beef Wellington is named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. However, there’s very little evidence actually attaching this dish to the Duke and the earliest recorded recipe to bear this name appeared in a 1966 cookbook. It could have been invented by a patriotic chef wanting to give an English name to a variation on the French filet de bœuf en croûte during the Napoleonic Wars. Or it could be that the dish is not named after the Duke himself, but rather that the dish was thought to resemble one of the brown shiny military boots which were named after him. So really….who knows!!
Little did we know when we decided to make this dish that it is, ahem, luxuriously expensive to prepare. I knew that beef wellington was beef baked in puff pastry but I didn’t know that it’s beef tenderloin (filet mignon!), smeared with dijon mustard, coated in duxelles (a mushroom, shallot and herb paste), wrapped in prosciutto and then, finally, wrapped and baked in puff pastry. The inventor of beef wellington (whoever that was!) was crazy, over the top, and completely brilliant. The thing is that, once you’ve spent your pretty penny on the ingredients, the dish isn’t complicated…it’s really just a series of searing, spreading and wrapping that produces a sensory overload of juicy and tender beef encased in a savory and flavorful shell.
I LOVED this wine with this dish! It was deep, rich and complex (like the beef wellington!) but brought the fruity component of cherry, fig and blackberry along with notes of vanilla, liqorice and chocolate. This wine was an awesome complement to the richness of the beef but would also be good on it’s own!
This Abbey Dubbel was a great pairing with our beef wellington! With an aroma and taste of warm spices, malt, sherry, and fruit the flavors compliment the rich flavors and textures of the beef, mushroom duxelles, and crispy crust. Taking a drink of the beer after a bite of the beef wellington is like an extension of the extravagant dish that you are eating!
From this recipe.
Makes 6-8 Servings
For the Duxelles:
1 pint white button mushrooms
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the beef:
1 (3-pound) center cut beef tenderloin ( filet mignon), trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 thin slices prosciutto
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
1 pound puff pastry, thawed if using frozen
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
To make the Duxelles:
1. Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and thyme to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
2. Add butter and olive oil to a large saute pan and set over medium heat.
3. Add the shallot and mushroom mixture and saute for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.
To prepare the beef:
1. Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil – about 2 to 3 minutes.
2. Meanwhile set out your prosciutto on a sheet of plastic wrap (plastic needs to be about a foot and a half in length so you can wrap and tie the roast up in it) on top of your cutting board. Shingle the prosciutto so it forms a rectangle that is big enough to encompass the entire filet of beef. Using a rubber spatula cover evenly with a thin layer of duxelles. Season the surface of the duxelles with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.
3. When the beef is seared, remove from heat, cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard. Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the duxelles covered prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight. Tuck in the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely encompass the beef. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.
4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
5. On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together. Remove beef from refrigerator and cut off plastic. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold over the longer sides, brushing with egg wash to seal. Trim ends if necessary then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef – saving ends to use as a decoration on top if desired. Top with coarse sea salt. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet.
6. Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife – this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from oven and rest before cutting into thick slices.