Now and then you get popular British dishes from back in the day that make an appearance in modern restaurants. Eton Mess is one and another one of the many dishes that has made a proud and permanent return to the world of fine dining is Beef Wellington.
There are 1000’s of versions and recipes describing how best to make it. Some will mention using pancakes to absorb or prevent soggy pastry, others will even use minced meat instead of fillet.
This recipe uses mushroom duxelle (which is basically a mushroom mince made with butter and white wine) and bacon. You can choose to keep the ham out but I love the medley of flavours that the ham, mushroom and bacon bring to the dish. The trick to preventing any excess juices from making the pastry soggy is to allow the fillet to rest after you remove it from the oven and chill in the fridge.
Best served with cheese sauce but that’s my preference, it works with every kind of sauce actually.
1kg beef fillet
100ml olive oil
300g brown mushrooms
1 sprig rosemary
1 sprig thyme
100ml Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay wine
12 slices thinly sliced bacon
12 slices thinly sliced ham
500g puff pastry, thawed
Handful of flour, for dusting
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon cream
1. Start by cleaning the beef fillet by removing all the sinew and excess fat from its outside surface.
2. Place the beef fillet on a roasting tray and brush it with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with pepper and salt. Place in the oven and grill in the oven at 200°C for 15 minutes for a medium-rare fillet or 20 minutes for a medium fillet. When the beef is cooked, remove it from the oven and set it aside to cool, once cool, place the fillet in the fridge to chill for about 20 mins.
3. Slice the mushrooms as finely as possible until they resemble breadcrumbs.
4. Melt the butter with 2 tbsp of the olive oil in a pan and fry the mushrooms on a medium heat. Place the rosemary and thyme in the pan with the mushrooms whilst stirring constantly for about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and pour the wine in the pan. Cook for a further 10 minutes until all the wine is absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Remove the thyme and rosemary from the mixture and discard.
5. In a separate pan, grill the bacon off until browned but not too crispy. Place on paper towel to dry off and cool.
6. Overlap two pieces of cling wrap plastic over a flat surface. Lay 12 slices of the bacon on the cling film, overlapping, in a double row. Place the ham on top of the bacon in a similar pattern.
7. Spread half the mushrooms over the bacon and ham, then place the fillet on top and spread the remaining mushrooms over the fillet. Use the plastic edges to pull the bacon around the fillet, then roll it into a pipe or roll shape. In the end it should resemble a large sausage. Chill the roll in the fridge.
8. Dust a flat surface with the flour. Roll out a third of the 500g of puff pastry to a 18 x 30cm strip and place on a non-stick baking tray which you’ve sprayed with Spray & Cook. Roll out the remainder of the puff pastry to about 28 x 36cm. Remove the fillet from the cling wrap and place it in the centre of the smaller strip of pastry. Beat the 2 egg yolks with 1 teaspoon cream and brush the pastry’s edges, and the top and sides of the fillet.
9. Using a rolling pin, carefully lift and roll out the larger piece of pastry over the fillet, pressing firmly into the sides. Trim the sides of the pastry. Seal the edges with the edge of a fork. Brush the top of the pastry all over with more egg wash and, using the back of a knife, mark the beef Wellington with long diagonal lines taking care not to cut too deep into the pastry.
10. Chill for at least 30 mins in the fridge or overnight for the next day.
11. Heat oven to 200°C. Brush the Wellington with a little more egg yolk and cook until golden and crisp – 20-25 mins for medium-rare beef, 30 mins for medium. Allow to stand for 10 mins before serving in thick slices.