Every year we like to try new festive traditions. Anything from hand making éclairs, testing eggnog recipes or duck fat potatoes, to our annual addition of a meaningful ornament to the Christmas Tree.
This in mind, and as neither of us (controversially, I know) adore turkey, we decided to kick the festive celebrations off a little early and complete another 101 in 1001 goal. #72. 'Cook a Beef Wellington'. Thanks to the lovely people at Waitrose, we were also able to indulge in a delicious wine matching the luxurious main, and a stunning port to finish dinner in style with a few cheese delights as dessert.
Disclaimer: We received ingredients for participating, but no positive reviews were requested in exchange. My (many) opinions are only ever my own.
Armed with my extensive shopping list, I turned to the 'Food and Wine Matching Guide' Waitrose kindly sent to me (see at the end of this post) and their wine website. I decided to match the cheeses with a lovely tawny port, and the Beef Wellington with a Craggy Range Merlot (from New Zealand of course). [As a side note, did you know you can search their wine list by typing the main ingredient into the Search field?]
It was surprisingly straight forward once you separate the steps. I researched a few different recipes, and stitched the recipe together from several I found on the internet. It. Was. Delicious. We used ingredients that were ready and raring already in my cupboard (thank you to my Foodie Penpal Fikir), a selection excellent fresh ingredients (mushroom pate and pastry) and the most insanely melt in your mouth beef fillet, as recommended by the Waitrose butcher.
Ingredients (bar the pate) assembled & cooling.
I decided to not use the usual pancakes as they seemed to be too much of a carby intermediary layer, but instead used blanched savoy cabbage leaves to seal in the beef juices (cheers baking brothers for the heads up). No soggy bottoms around here.
Ingredients in hand, I invited my in-laws over for dinner (as I seemed to have decided that there wasn't enough pressure on) and began preparations. It is a good dish to prepare with company as you can complete steps 1 to 6 beforehand, and the rest with stops for wine and chatter in between.
It not only got Mr Kiwi's eye's-shut-seal-of-approval but mine and my surprised in-laws.
- 20g dried mushrooms
- 800g good-quality beef fillet
- Salt and pepper for seasoning
- A knob or two of butter
- 1 cloves garlic, chopped
- Flour for dusting (around 1/4 of a cup)
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 250g fresh mushrooms (chestnut, oyster, shitake, flat black) roughly chopped
- A knob of butter
- 1 sprig of thyme
- 150ml white wine
- 6 Savoy cabbage leaves
- 500g block of all-butter puff pastry
- 1 pat of pate, flavour of your choice
- 1 egg, to glaze
- Rehydrate your dried Mushrooms by pouring boiling water on them, and leave to soak for a moment.
- Heat your oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6.
- Season the fillet liberally and dust with flour. Heat a large pan, add the butter and garlic, and brown the beef on all sides. This is not to cook it but to just get as much colour on the meat as possible – about 2 minutes on each side. Then pop in the oven for 20 minutes for rare, 30 minutes for Medium.
- Remove from the oven and place on a plate to chill and rest.
- Melt the second lot of butter in the same pan (to deglaze) then add the garlic and strip in the thyme. Drain the rehydrated mushrooms. Add the red onion, rehydrated and fresh mushrooms, frying until they have colour. When the mushrooms are golden and most of the moisture has gone, season to taste, take off the heat. Set aside to chill.
- Separate the cabbage leaves and using a knife cut out the middle of the stem from the thick end. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and blanch the cabbage leaves for 2 minutes, then remove and plunge straight into cold water. This is just to cook the leaves through and chilling them quickly helps to keep the vibrant green colour. When cool, drain and squeeze out any excess moisture.
- Roll the pastry into a thin rectangle and cut it into one large piece and one smaller piece – two thirds and one third. The smaller piece is what the beef will sit on and the larger piece is the piece that will go on top and cover everything.
- Lay the cabbage out overlapping each leaf in a shape big enough to wrap the whole fillet in. Lay the pate pat in the middle of the leaves, then thinly spread half the mushrooms over the middle part of the cabbage. Place the fillet on the cabbage and top with the remaining mushrooms.
- Wrap the cabbage leaves over the whole parcel making sure there are no gaps. This helps to keep the juices away from the pastry. Brush the edges of the pasty with egg, then turning it as you move to keep the mushrooms are on top, cover it all with the larger piece of pastry. Using a rolling pin, push the pastry at the bottom of the beef to seal it in and then using a fork, crimp the edges. Put 3 slashes into the top of the pastry and brush with egg wash.
- Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes so the pastry can firm-up. Otherwise when you bake it, the pastry may shrink. I then reglazed with egg wash to get it really golden.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas mark 6 with a baking sheet in the oven already, until it's hot.
- Place the Wellington directly onto the hot baking sheet. This stops it getting a soggy butt. Bake the Wellington for 20 minutes then turn down the heat to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas mark 4 and bake until the party is golden - I found it was another 30 minutes in total.
- Remove and rest for 5 minutes somewhere warm. Slice and serve.
Step 1: Rehydrate the mushrooms. Mr Spock accent optional.
Step 8: Layer cabbage leaves, pate, 1/2 the mushrooms, beef fillet. Add more mushrooms then more cabbage leaves to cover the entire parcel.
Step 9: Cover with the rest of the pastry and glaze with egg. You should trim it around the edges for better presentation. I didn't. Blame the wine I was testing...
Step 10: Rest the cooked wellington for as long as you can resist eating it, then enjoy with gusto and a beautiful red wine.
I cooked en croute (in pastry for us English plebs), rehydrated, blanched, deglazed, made a duxelles (mushroom reduction/paste) and wowed my In-Laws. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon of chatting and dirtying a few dishes. I highly recommend this recipe, it's more straight forward than you think it will be.
Cheers Waitrose team!