Tenderloin of beef, herb seared, wrapped in a mushroom pate, then herb crepes and finally a puff pastry and roasted to the elegant beef Wellington for the most special of occasions.
The Elegance Of A Wellington
If you want a dish that is fit for royalty, this is your ‘piece de resistance’! Every slice tantalizes with its beauty and perfection. While Beef Wellington may appear to be a difficult dish to perfect, I promise you, it is not. There are several steps in preparing this beauty, and each step can be done in advance, except the final roasting time. But even that, and a meat thermometer, can be done while you are enjoying appetizers with guests.
What is Beef Wellington?
Beef Wellington is absolutely the most decadent, beautiful, showstopper meal you can ever serve! It’s like that perfectly wrapped gift box that someone gives to you, with another perfectly wrapped box inside, with another inside until you reach the final box with a gorgeous diamond inside! It was the entertainment extravaganza of the 60’s and has definitely made a come back!
I first learned to make Beef Wellington from Gordon Ramsay in his Master Class presentation. The steps were easy to follow and the results were impressive. I did, however, make a few changes. Shhhh don’t tell him! My son is a fabulous Executive Chef and his real forte is meat and seafood. I was not happy with the timing on cooking the beef and found Gordon’s instructions leaving me with beef that was just not cooked enough. Maybe it was the layers that added thickness, therefore not allowing the heat to penetrate, but my son gave me a few pointers and now my Beef Wellington is absolutely perfect ever time!
A perfectly salt and herb seared tenderloin. Wrapped then, in a pate, held in place with prosciutto, wrapped then, in a beautiful herb crepe, finally wrapped in a buttery puff pastry. Baked to perfection and served with applause!
Sound like a lot of work? Here’s the good news, each wrapping can be done a day in advance. The final wrapping of the herb crepe around all the goodies inside, gets wrapped tight in plastic wrap for a few hours, if not over night, anyway, so the only real work the day of serving, is to wrap the puff pastry and bake. Easy!
Beef tenderloin is also the cut of a filet mignon. It is also the cut used to make Beef Wellington. What is often times not admitted, is that the beef tenderloin cut has the least amount of flavor of any other cut of beef. Tender? Totally! Flavorful? Nope! Why? Little to no fat. Fat is what imparts much of the flavor in the meats we cook. While the filet or tenderloin is a beautiful cut of meat, it really does need help with taste.
For this reason, when we prepare a Beef Wellington, the meat is seared first, in a hot iron pan with olive oil, butter, herbs and lots of course sea salt. Flavor surrounds the meat, its juices become secured inside by searing the outside of the beef and already the first phase of layering flavor to a beautiful cut of meat has begun.
While goose, duck or chicken liver pate is what is often used to cover the beef then wrap in bacon, I just felt it was too many conflicting flavors (pig, chicken, duck or goose), that would rob the beef of its own delicate flavor. Chicken liver pate, to me, has a strong flavor, as does faux gras (which, I’m sorry, I just don’t like), and so I opted for mushroom pate.
Who doesn’t love the earthy flavor of mushrooms with beef anyway! Homemade mushroom pate is so easy to make, you will wonder why you don’t make it often for a variety of other dishes. A huge, like really huge, heap of mushrooms gets tossed into a big pot with a little butter, garlic a drizzle of wine and herbs, simmered down and pureed! That’s it. Don’t forget to set some aside (freeze if need be), to toss into many of your winter soups.
Why use crepes in the making of Beef Wellington? Several reasons. First, the herb crepes are a batter of eggs, milk and flour and once they are made, they have a firmness that holds the pate and prosciutto in place. Another brilliant reason is that the crepe is what lays next to the puff pastry and not the pate or meat, which protects the puff pastry from getting soggy when it bakes, as many have complained about the making of Beef Wellington. They also impart flavor and texture to each bite.
Ready to put this together and wow your dinner guests every time? Yes, there are several steps, but as I said, nearly all of them can be done in advance. Lots of photos included here to give you the confidence along the way.
- Beef Tenderloin
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh Thyme
- Olive oil
- Dijon mustard
- Puff Pastry
- Egg yolks
- Flour – for dusting
- Savory herb crepes
- Large Saute pan
- Cutting board
- Chopping knife
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Meat thermometer
- Basting brush
- Metal spatula
- Stovetop or burner
Beef Wellington: The Dinner Party ShowstopperCourse: MeatCuisine: British
Beef Wellington, seared in herbs, encased in mushroom pate and an herb crepe, then wrapped in a buttery puff pastry and roasted to perfection.
1 (2 lb.) center-cut beef tenderloin, trimmed
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
Thyme – 1 oz. bundle
Olive oil – 3 tablespoons
Dijon mustard – 1 tablespoon
Prosciutto – 6 slices
Mushrooms – 1 1/2 lb. finely chopped
Garlic – 1 clove, finely chopped
Butter – 2 tablespoons
Puff pastry – 1 (9 oz.) sheet, thawed
Egg yolks – 2, whisked and set aside
Flour for dusting
- Beef. Salt and pepper the tenderloin generously. In a heavy skillet over high heat, add olive oil. Once the pan begins to smoke, toss in a few sprigs of thyme and the tenderloin. Sear the tenderloin on all sides until well browned, including ends. Transfer to a plate and brush the mustard generously on all sides. Let it cool in the fridge.
- Mushrooms. Pulse mushrooms, salt/pepper to taste, garlic and thyme leaves stripped from its stem, in a processor. In the same skillet, lightly wiped out oil, melt butter and add mushroom mixture. Cook until liquid has evaporated, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in the fridge.
- Assemble. Place plastic wrap down on a work area, overlapping so it is twice the length and width of the tenderloin. Lay the herb crepes down first, overlapping, then the prosciutto side by side to form a rectangle area able to wrap around the whole tenderloin. Spread the mushroom mixture evenly on top of the prosciutto. Set the tenderloin on top of the mushroom mixture. Bring up one end of the plastic, so as to neatly wrap the mushroom/prosciutto mixture around the meat. Tightly continue to roll until the meat is neatly wrapped, taking care to tuck ends in as well. Tie the ends tightly with twine or wire twists. Place the bundle in the fridge for 30 minutes. This step helps hold the bundle together.
- Heat oven to 425. Lightly flour work surface. Spread thawed puff pastry on floured area and roll it out into a rectangle shape that will cover the tenderloin bundle, with a little extra to seal edges. Remove the tenderloin bundle from plastic wrap and place on bottom end of puff pastry. Brush inside edges of puff pastry with egg yolk, then tightly roll meat bundle into the puff pastry.
- Trim any extra pastry, pinch edges to seal in its contents. Brush egg yolk liberally around the top and sides of the pastry. If you would like to create a little design on top the pastry, or roll out excess pastry and use a cookie cutter to form shapes, now is the time. Lay the shapes on top the pastry and brush with egg yolk again. Sprinkle a little coarse salt on top. Lay a few sprigs of thyme on top. Place this bundle on a parchment paper lined baking tray and pop in the oven.
- Bake until pastry is golden and the center registers 120 for a medium rare beef, about 45 minutes, a little longer for well done. Remove from oven, let it rest 10 minutes before carving and serving.
- If children will be dining with you, I have found it more fun for them to be served individual, mini versions of what the grown-ups will be served. Small cubes of the tenderloin wrapped in mini versions of the adult recipe. Wrapped in small squares of puff pastry. Since everything in these adorable child servings has been scaled down, bake them only until the puff pastry is golden, about 15 minutes.