"O.M.G. ... did you make this?! !!
I was reading Diana Henry in the Telegraph at the weekend, who described some dishes as getting that OMG reaction. Beef Wellington is one such dish in our family. When I first made it for the guys 15 years ago, it got that OMG-type response.
Yes, it's a little fancier than your everyday meal and requires some effort but it's always received so enthusiastically, and that makes the little extra effort so worthwhile.
Now, I say a "little" effort because that's really what it is, yet it looks soooo impressive.
The important thing is to read the recipe well in advance and organise yourself for the preparation. Allow yourself time so that it's a pleasure making it up. Put on some nice music, light a few candles in the kitchen and enjoy the journey!
My tried-and-tested approach is to prepare the wellington through to step one below, a day before it's required (or freeze it). This means that all you need do on the day of serving is to brush it with beaten egg and pop it in the oven, leaving you time to relax and doll yourself up before guests arrive. Now, that's my type of entertaining!
Serves 6, 8 at a push!!
The photos below are of one I made for New Year's Day.
Spot which photos I didn't take!
1 piece of beef fillet, approx. 1.35kg//3lbs (buy it from a good butcher, it's worth it)
a little olive oil
salt and pepper
175g/6oz chicken liver pate (I usually buy double this amount to have to hand as the base of the beef fillet can be variable - it's best to have too much than not enough!)
4 shop bought pancakes* NB: not sweetened, this is a savoury dish!
1 small free-range egg, beaten
1 packet of shop bought puff pastry (as with the pate, I buy twice the quanity as the size of beef is variable - leftovers can be used for all kinds of naughty treats!)
For the mushroom stuffing (the duxelle)
150g/5oz shallots, peeled and finely diced
250g.9oz flat mushrooms, finely chopped
3 tbsp. double cream
salt and pepper
* The Pancakes
I find these hard to find in our local supermarkets so I just make my own.
If you're making your own non-sweet pancakes, make them first to your preferred recipe and set aside to cool.
1. The Preparation
Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan. When foaming, add the seasoned beef and seal on all sides. Remove from the pan and allow to cool completely. Allow about 20 minutes for this.
finely chopped mushrooms
finely chopped shallots
To make the duxelle stuffing, in the same frying pan add the butter and when hot and foaming, add the shallots and cook until softened and golden..
Add the mushrooms and cook slowly until all the liquid evaporates. NB: this can take a good 10 minutes or so, depending on the mushrooms. Add the cream and salt and pepper. Continue to gently heat until it has reduced to a thick puree. Set aside to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 230c/450f/Gas 8.
2. The Assembly
Roll the pastry to fit the covering of the whole of the beef and lay two of the pancakes on top, slightly overlapping.
Spread the chicken liver pate across the centre of the pancakes to the same width as the beef fillet.
Make a cut about 3/4 of the way through the beef into the centre of the beef fillet and fill with the cooled duxelle mix.
Place the beef on top the pate and cover the beef with the remaining two pancakes.
Cut away the middle of the ends of the pastry.
Fold over the main part of the meat and then neatly fold the ends. Brush the edges with a little water to seal. Place seam side down on a large baking tray (if cooking, otherwise on your chosen covering**). Decorate with any leftover pastry pieces if that is your fancy.
If you are not cooking the wellington immediately:
At this point, the pastry-encased beef can be covered and placed in the fridge overnight for cooking.
Alternatively, if freezing, cover to your preference. **I covered the wellington with a layer of greaseproof paper, then wrap in aluminium lined baking parchment (aluminium side away from the beef).
Allow time to de-frost well.
Remove wrapping carefully and place Wellington in a covered dish on the fridge. Allow approx 24 hours, depending on the size of your joint.
3. The Cooking
Brush the wellington with beaten egg on all exposed areas.
Place it in the oven for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 190c/375f/Gas 5 and continue to cook for another 20 minutes approx, until the pastry is golden, or to preference.
My tip here is to use a meat thermometer to check the temperature of the meat, cooking to your preference, e.g. medium rare.
Remove from the oven to a carving board and allow to rest for 5 minutes before carving into thick slices.
4. The Eating!
A la perchoine.