Beef Wellington

I am writing this while listening to my little sister’s new radio show (such a rock star!) so may be a little distracted.

Yesterday we had the in-laws for lunch. On request from Mr F we had beef wellington – actually this has been the standard response to the “what shall we have for dinner?” question for the last 5 years and I have managed to avoid it until now. Irritatingly I was overcome by some irrational need to prove that I AM a good wife and I CAN work with pastry (I’m not, and I can’t) – no pressure then.

As well as not working well with pastry the second problem is my oven. I really think the only acceptable thing to have alongside beef wellington is dauphinoise potatoes but when you have an oven the size of mine it is tricky juggling the the two. After I lot of discussion I figured out how to work round the problem (cooked the potatoes first and then kept warm with foil over the top while the beef cooked), and thank God as nothing else would have done quite such a good job… 

  • 800g-1kg fillet of beef
  • 350g mushrooms (I use a mixture of chestnut and shitake)
  • 2 shallots or 1 small onion
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • unsalted butter
  • ready rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg

Start by trimming the fillet of beef of any excess fat. Season with salt and pepper and rub in a generous slug of olive oil on both sides. Over a high heat, brown the beef in a roasting tray probably for about 3 mins each side, this will seal in the flavours. Once browned all over put aside to cool and then cover in foil and put in the fridge for at least half an hour.

While the beef is cooling finely chop the onions, add a generous knob of butter and a bit of olive oil to a frying pan, and cook over a low heat for about 10mins until soft. Finely chop the mushrooms. Once the onions are soft and just before they start to brown add the mushrooms and continue to cook on a medium low heat for about 20mins. Add the white wine, season, and continue to cook until dry – this is really important as if the mushrooms are wet then the pastry will be soggy. Set aside and allow to cool completely.

On a floured surface lay out the pastry and roll out so it is even thinner into a large rectangle. Spoon half the mushroom mixture into the middle of the rectangle, about the same size as your piece of beef. Place the fillet on top of the mushrooms and then spoon the remaining mushrooms on top of the fillet. Wrap the pastry round the beef like a parcel, brush the edges with the whisked egg to seal and do the same at each end. Turn it over carefully so that the seal is underneath – this prevents it from bursting open while cooking. Brush the surface with the remaining egg, including any decorations you may have added. Place back in fridge until needed but at least for half an hour to stop the pastry shrinking while cooking.

Preheat the oven to 230 degrees and cook on a baking tray for 30mins by which time the pastry should be a beautiful golden colour. Leave to rest for 5/10 mins (do not cover with foil as the pastry will go soggy). Cut into thick slices and serve with dauphinoise potatoes and green beans. I also made a red wine jus by reducing 200ml red wine in the roasting pan and crumbling in a small amount of beef stock cube.

The beef was beautifully rare and was a total success. It went brilliantly with the Vacqueyras I bought last week – the tannins were softened by the beef and the spice in the wine was a lovely way to compliment the slightly nutty quality of the mushrooms.

ps. The leftovers are delicious cold – I just had them for lunch.