Beef Wellington

This history of this dish and the origins of its name are uncertain according to Wikipedia, but it definitely plays an important role in my personal food history as Beef Wellington was one of the first gourmet dishes I learned to prepare. It was at the christmas party at my first job back in 1997. We were a small team at the office and since many of us loved to cook, for a christmas party we cooked our own dinner under supervision of a chef. I loved it and have since prepared it many times following the same recipe, even though I later found out that Beef Wellington often also includes pâté (which is not included in this recipe). Beef Wellington is beef tenderloin, wrapped in puff pastry with a umami bomb called duxelles (mushrooms, ham, tomato paste, shallots, garlic, and parsley). I always serve it with haricots verts and a strong red wine sauce. It is a great dish for festive occasions. 
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Some of you were wondering what dish I made with my first home made puff pastry. I couldn’t think of a better dish to use it for than this.  The combination of the beef with the duxelles, the puff pastry and the red wine sauce is just amazing. The juices that will leak from the beef during the cooking will be absorbed by the duxelles and the pastry. It almost becomes one single flavor, which together with the red wine sauce for me is the flavor of Beef Wellington. You can either make individual parcels or wrap an entire tenderloin in puff pastry and serve it sliced. I prefer a lot of duxelles and think that individual parcels look more festive, so that is what I usually do.

Beef Wellington is relatively easy to make if you use store-bought puff pastry (as I have always done before). There are two tricky parts: working with puff pastry (which will break if it is too cold or tear when it is too warm) and getting the puff pastry and the beef perfectly cooked at the same time. I noticed that after all the hard work of making my own puff pastry, working with it was much easier than working with store-bought pastry, which is not as supple and will tear more easily.

I have successfully used an instant-read thermometer with a probe to be able to cook the beef until it had reached the desired core temperature. The parcels can be prepared in advance and kept in the refrigerator, so when it is time to serve you only need to put the Beef Wellington in the oven. This makes it a perfect dish for festive occasions such as christmas dinner and other times when you cook for company.

Ingredients

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For 2 servings

2 beef tenderloin tournedos of 140 grams (5 oz) each

2 square sheets of puff pastry of 20 cm (8 inches), about 225 grams (.5 lb) or a quarter of the recipe for home made puff pastry

100 grams (3.5 oz) button mushrooms, roughly chopped

60 grams (2 oz) ham, cubed

2 small or 1 large shallot, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 Tbsp bread crumbs

1 Tbsp minced fresh flat leaf parsley

salt and freshly ground black pepper

25 grams (2 Tbsp) butter, preferably clarified

1 egg yolk

1 Tbsp olive oil

For serving

400 grams (.9 lb) haricots verts, steamed

red wine sauce, made from 250 ml (1 cup) red wine, 350 ml (1 1/2 cups) beef stock, 1 shallot, 1 clove garlic fresh thyme, 1 bay leave, 1 Tbsp butter; click here for a recipe

Preparation

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Pat the tournedos dry with paper towels and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper immediately before browning.

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Heat half the butter in a frying pan and add the tournedos.

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Brown the tournedos over high heat on both sides. You do not need to cook them, only brown them, so a minutes or so per side will suffice. Turn off the heat, take the tournedos out of the pan and set them aside on a plate.

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Add the mushrooms, shallots, garlic, and ham to the pan with the remaining butter.

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Sauté over medium heat until the mushrooms have shrunken and the shallots are golden, about 5 minutes.

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Lower the heat and add the tomato paste and bread crumbs.

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Also add the juices that have leaked from the beef. It would be a waste not to use them.

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Cook for a few minutes longer.

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Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a food processor.

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Pulse a few times until coarsely ground; you are not looking for puree. Now season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste, and add the parsley.

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Pulse once more to mix in the parsley. Allow to cool to room temperature.

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When using home made puff pastry, cut off squares of about 100 grams (3.5 oz) for each serving. Wrap the squares you are not using right away in plastic wrap and refrigerate to keep them cool.

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Take a single portion of puff pastry and roll it out with a rolling pin on a wooden work surface dusted with flour to obtain a square of about 20 cm (8 inches).

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Arrange about 3 Tbsp of duxelles in the center.

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Put a tournedos on top.

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Arrange 3 Tbsp more duxelles on top of the tournedos.

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Now close the parcel by pinching together the puff pastry. Repeat to make as many parcels as you need. The parcels can be refrigerated until it is time to bake and serve them.

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Preheat the oven to 250ºC/480ºF (without fan, or 225ºC/440ºF with fan). In a small bowl combine an egg yolk with a tablespoon of olive oil. Beat to mix to obtain dorure. Brush the top of each parcel with the dorure, which will help to brown the puff pastry.

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Bake for 15 minutes at 250ºC/480ºF (without fan, or 225ºC/440ºF with fan), or until the puff pastry is golden and the beef is cooked to your preference (if using a thermometer with a probe, 50ºC/122ºF for rare, 55ºC/131ºF for medium rare, or 60ºC/140ºF for medium; please do not cook to well done).

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Serve at once on a warm plate with the haricots verts and red wine sauce.

Wine pairing

Beef Wellington served with a red wine sauce is best with a Pomerol or another full-bodied merlot (Pomerol is from the right bank in Bordeaux and contains mostly merlot). The dish can handle quite a strong red wine.

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32 thoughts on “Beef Wellington

  1. Stefan, this is a beautiful dish. The mixture inside of your homemade puff pastry looks so unique and filled with flavor. It looks very impressive on the plate. Yes, for company, what point could you prepare it to and stop? Does the red wine sauce at the bottom affect the texture of the pastry… is it ever served on the side? I like where you are going with your homemade puff pastry series! 🙂 Best, Shanna

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  2. I made Beef Wellington often as a dinner party piece, with pate included, dare I say 30 years ago. I find it too rich now, but I can imagine how good this tasted with your buttery homemade puff pastry.

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  3. ladyredspecs has already told my tale 🙂 ! Beef Wellington was on my very first dinner party menu as a newlywed . . . yes, one long loaf, plenty of pate and mushrooms, no ham . . . for me the dish is also somewhat in the past, but your individual one looks very appetizing . . .

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    • I would have liked it slightly more crispy and slightly more rare, but like this it was a good trade-off. I increased the oven temp in the recipe a bit (from 240 to 250) to compensate. I think it is easier with a whole tenderloin, as that won’t overcook as quickly as a single portion tournedos.

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  4. Simply wonderful, Stefan. It’s an impressive dish, to begin with, but serving it with your own puff pastry definitely adds to the “Wow factor”. Very nicely done. One of my first attempts at a gourmet meal was, also, Beef Wellington, though yours looks much better than mine did. It was Mom and Zia’s first visit to Chicago, about 10 years before your first attempt. I was 12 years old at the time. 😉

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  5. Great post Stefan. It is one of my favorites, too. I have been making Beef Wellington for roughly 37 years. I have made it with pate and without. Personally, I prefer it without. It is a wonderful special occasion dish and you definitely did it justice. Good step-by-step photos and a great plating shot. Glad to see your new camera is getting good use. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Richard. There are still some posts from the old camera coming up (which I didn’t think were as appropriate for the holiday season). I wonder whether the difference will be noticed 😉

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  6. Beef Wellington is among my favorite dishes. I’m partial to the inclusion of pate, but a good duxelles is just so amazingly good! Love the individual portions, very attractive!

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  7. Pingback: Traditional French Onion Soup | Stefan's Gourmet Blog

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