Dish of the Week: Beef Wellington

Filet mignon wrapped in puff pastry makes for one decadent meal.
Filet mignon wrapped in puff pastry makes for one decadent meal.
Photo by David Blaine

From classic comfort foods to regional standouts and desserts, we'll be sharing a new recipe with you each week. Find other dishes of the week here.

This week, we’re sharing a recipe perfect for a special evening at home: Beef Wellington.

Beef Wellington is a classic preparation of beef in which the fillet is coated with pâté de foie gras — or a paste of fattened, minced goose or duck liver — and/or duxelles — a finely chopped mixture of sautéed mushrooms, onions, shallots, garlic and parsley. The tenderloin is wrapped in buttery puff pastry and baked until golden brown (and cooked to a perfect rare to medium rare). Along with the pâté and duxelles treatments, other variations include layers of  prosciutto, herb crepes, mustard and horseradish.

The origin of the dish is up for debate, and so is the name. Many food historians believe the dish was named for Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, the British military hero who defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Others believe it was simply a patriotic rebranding of the popular French dish filet de bœuf en croûte (fillet of beef in pastry).

Regardless of the debate, one thing about Beef Wellington is widely agreed upon: That it's utterly delicious.

This recipe, from chef Tyler Florence, adds to the decadence with a brandy-cream green peppercorn sauce to go with the beef.

Beef Wellington

Ingredients
For the duxelles:
3 pints (1 1/2 pounds) white button mushrooms
2 shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the beef:
1 (3-pound) center cut beef tenderloin (filet mignon), trimmed
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 thin slices prosciutto
6 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Flour, for rolling out puff pastry
1 pound puff pastry, thawed if using frozen
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
Minced chives, for garnish

For the sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 shallots, sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
1 cup brandy
1 box beef stock
2 cups cream
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/2 cup green peppercorns in brine, drained, brine reserved

Directions

To make the duxelles: Add mushrooms, shallots, garlic and thyme to a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add butter and olive oil to a large sauté pan and set over medium heat. Add the shallot and mushroom mixture and sauté for 8 to 10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and set aside to cool.

To prepare the beef: Tie the tenderloin in 4 places so it holds its cylindrical shape while cooking. Drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper and sear all over, including the ends, in a hot, heavy-based skillet lightly coated with olive oil — about 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, set out your prosciutto on a sheet of plastic wrap (plastic needs to be about a foot and a half in length so you can wrap and tie the roast up in it) on top of your cutting board. Shingle the prosciutto so it forms a rectangle that is big enough to encompass the entire fillet of beef. Using a rubber spatula, cover evenly with a thin layer of duxelles. Season the surface of the duxelles with salt and pepper and sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves.

When the beef is seared, remove from heat (save the pan to make the green peppercorn sauce), cut off twine and smear lightly all over with Dijon mustard. Allow to cool slightly, then roll up in the duxelles-covered prosciutto using the plastic wrap to tie it up nice and tight. Tuck in the ends of the prosciutto as you roll to completely encompass the beef. Roll it up tightly in plastic wrap and twist the ends to seal it completely and hold it in a nice log shape. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to ensure it maintains its shape.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the puff pastry out to about a 1/4-inch thickness. Depending on the size of your sheets, you may have to overlap 2 sheets and press them together. Remove beef from refrigerator and cut off plastic. Set the beef in the center of the pastry and fold over the longer sides, brushing with egg wash to seal. Trim ends if necessary, then brush with egg wash and fold over to completely seal the beef — saving ends to use as a decoration on top if desired. Top with coarse sea salt. Place the beef seam side down on a baking sheet.

Brush the top of the pastry with egg wash, then make a couple of slits in the top of the pastry using the tip of a paring knife — this creates vents that will allow the steam to escape when cooking. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until pastry is golden brown and beef registers 125 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce: Add olive oil to pan after removing beef. Add shallots, garlic and thyme; sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, then, off heat, add brandy and flambé using a long kitchen match. After flame dies down, return to the heat, add stock and reduce by about half. Strain out solids, then add 2 cups cream and mustard. Reduce by half again, then shut off heat and add green peppercorns.

Remove from oven and rest before cutting into thick slices. Garnish with minced chives, and serve with green peppercorn sauce.


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