One day, recently, I was sitting, looking out the window at a dull, bleak sky, wondering how I would surprise my wife on her birthday, which is exactly one week before Christmas.
Well, you know how it is. One thought led to another, and all of a sudden I became preoccupied with the Duke of Wellington.
Don't ask why, please. Anyway, with the grand old duke on my mind, I remembered a grand dish named after him.
From there, it was very simple.
Beef Wellington is usually tenderloin of beef coated with pate and mushroom duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked. My variation replaces the pate with slices of Parma ham, and adds some bread crumbs on the bottom of the tenderloin. These variations are both for the same reason: the Parma ham wraps the beef and prevents an abundance of liquid seeping into the pastry causing it to crumble, and the breadcrumbs, placed on the bottom, are there for the same purpose.
Beef Wellington can be made using a whole tenderloin, or sliced into individual portions prior to wrapping and baking. While it is quite easy to make, and the result is so festive, tenderloin is quite expensive, which is why I usually find myself making it on holidays or other festive occasions.
Dan's Beef Wellington
Makes 4 servings
- 1 1/2 lbs prime beef tenderloin
- 1 lb flat cap mushrooms, finely diced
- 12 - 14 slices Parma ham
- 2 tablespoons English mustard
- 1 (17.5 ounce) package frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 egg yolks, beaten
- 4 tablespoons bread crumbs
- Butter (to grease baking dish)
- Finely dice the mushrooms. Place in a saucepan and cook for about 10 minutes, tossing frequently, to release the moisture. Spread out on a plate and allow to cool.
- Heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. When it is hot, season the beef with the pepper and sear it for about 30 ñ 60 seconds per side. (We just want to color it at this stage, not cook it through).
- Remove the beef, and allow to cool completely. When the meat is cool, spread mustard to cover.
- Spread a sheet of cling wrap large enough to cover your beef on a work on your work surface. Arrange the Parma ham slices on the sheet in slightly overlapping rows. Spread the mushroom mixture on the ham, and then place the beef fillet in the center. Hold the cling film in one hand and tightly roll the ham and mushrooms around the beef to create a barrel shape. Twist the ends of the cling wrap to secure, and refrigerate for 15 ñ 20 minutes to allow the beef to set and retain its shape.
- Roll out the puff pastry dough on a floured working surface to form a large rectangle approximately 1/4 inch thick.
- Carefully remove the beef from the cling wrap and place in the center of the pastry. Spread the breadcrumbs on what will be the bottom of the pastry, and then brush the surrounding pastry with egg yolk. Fold the pastry and wrap over the beef, cutting off any excess. Make sure the seams are not too thick.
- Carefully turn the beef over, so the join seam is on the bottom, and place in a greased baking dish.
- Brush the egg yolk all over the pastry, and refrigerate for about 20 ñ 30 minutes to allow the pastry to rest.
- Heat oven to 400 F.
- Remove from refrigerator and lightly score the pastry at 1/2 inch intervals and brush another layer of beaten egg yolk. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 F, and then reduce heat to 320 F for an additional 15 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.