Beef Wellington is possibly the most ultimate indulgence when it comes to a main dish and the perfect dish to create for a very special occasion.
The decadence comes from the ingredients and process where a centre cut tenderloin of beef is coated in mustard and a mushroom duxelles, which is then wrapped in prosciutto, a chive crepe and then finally covered with puff pastry and baked.
Whilst many would assume Beef Wellington is an English dish, its English origins are quite unclear. It is generally agreed that the dish was created in celebration of the first Duke of Wellington, Arthur Wellesley, and his victory at the Battle of Waterloo on June 18 1815. However, when you inspect the cooking techniques and components of Beef Wellington - from the duxelles, crepe and pastry - it most closely resembles the French ‘fillet de boeuf en croute and may well have been renamed the Beef Wellington after the Battle of Waterloo - rather than being a dish specifically created for the Duke of Wellington.
Whatever the origin, there is no doubt it is absolutely delicious! It is best served alongside a selection of vegetable sides, gravy and paired with a delicious red wine.
This one is for those who want a bit more of a challenge and process in a recipe. Try it for your next special occasion!
Beef Wellington has 5 different layers and key processes to it, which have their own functions to add flavour and texture to the recipe.
Layer 1: The Beef
The core of the dish. It is seared and covered with mustard to stop the meat from drying out.
Layer 2: The Mushroom Duxelles
A paste of mushrooms, onions, garlic and herbs that covers and flavours the beef.
Layer 3: The Prosciutto
Secures the duxelles to the beef and infuses salt and fat into the dish.
Layer 4: The Chive Crepe
Acts as a barrier between the pastry and the rest of the layers, absorbing any excess moisture so the pastry doesn’t go soggy.
Layer 5: The Puff Pastry
The final flakey and delicious layer that covers everything
Cooking time: 3 hours - 2 hours prep, 40 minutes cooking, 15 minutes rest
Ingredients for layers 1,3 & 5
- 1kg of centre cut tenderloin beef. Also known as a ‘chateaubriand’ cut. You most likely won’t find this at the supermarket, so go to your local butcher.
- 4 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
- 6 slices of prosciutto
- 2 sheets of frozen, puff pastry, thawed.
- Egg wash - 2 egg yolks mixed with a dash of water.
Ingredients for layer 2: Mushroom Duxelles
- 500g of white mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons of brandy or whiskey
- 1 small bunch of thyme
- 2 small brown onions
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
Ingredients for layer 4: Chive Crepe
- 4 tablespoons of all purpose plain flour
- 150ml of milk
- 1 tablespoon of butter
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons worth of chives, finely chopped.
- Peel your onions and garlic and place into a food processor to chop into fine pieces.
- Heat a large pan with oil and once hot, add in your onions & garlic, and stir on medium heat for 5 minutes until soft and translucent.
- Once the onions & garlic are softened, add your mushrooms into the food processor and chip into fine pieces. Add the mushrooms into the pan, and stir to combine.
- Add the thyme, and brandy/whiskey and continue to cook for 5 minutes on medium. The mushrooms will absorb all the liquid, shrink and then release the moisture bank into the pan during the cooking process.
- Continue to cook on medium to low to evaporate as much moisture as possible. Then transfer to a bowl, and allow to cool down. Refrigerate if you don’t plan to assemble the same day.
- Place a large pan on a high heat with a tablespoon of oil. The pan needs to be super hot so allow the pan to start smoking before placing the beef into the pan to sear.
- Sear every side of the beef including the ends for 1-2 minutes maximum. You want as much char and caramelisation on the outside but not really cooking the meat inside at all, as this will be cooked in the oven during the baking process.
- Remove from the pan and transfer to a tray. Immediately spread on the 4 tablespoons of Dijon mustard all over the beef whilst still hot. This prevents the meat from drying out and allows it to absorb the flavour of the mustard into the meat. Allow to cool, cover and refrigerate if you are not planning to assemble that same day. You can do this up to two days in advance of serving.
- To make the Chive Crepe, add the 4 tablespoons of flour, 150ml of milk, 1 tablespoon of butter, an egg and 2 teaspoons of finely chopped chives into a bowl and whisk to combine until smooth.
- Preheat a large pan with a teaspoon of butter and once melted, pour in 1 ladle of the crepe batter, just enough to coat the surface of the pan. Cook on medium heat for 1-2 minutes before flipping and cooking for another minute before placing on a plate to cool. Refrigerate the crepes if you are making this in advance.
Assembling your Beef Wellington
- Place 2 of the crepes down onto a chopping board overlapping each other so you have a rough rectangle crepe surface. The length of the crepes needs to be long enough to wrap entirely around the Beef Wellington.
- Now place 5-6 slices of prosciutto down onto the base of the crepe, carefully overlapping each other.
- Then carefully and evenly spread the mushroom duxelles all over the prosciutto, making sure there is enough to evenly coat the beef when rolled.
- Place your beef along the base of the mushroom duxelles and gently begin to roll the beef into a ‘burrito’ so that the crepe, prosciutto and mushrooms are completely covering the beef.Make sure the sides are sealed up too. Remove any excess mushroom duxelles at the ends if you need to if the ends don’t meet.
- Then cover with cling wrap and enough excess wrap on the sides to twist and seal off the ends. Place into the fridge and chill for 1 hour.
- Roll your puff pastry onto your bench top and brush the top with some egg wash (2 egg yolks mixed with a dash of water). This will help your beef stick to the pastry.
- Then slowly unwrap your beef wellington burrito and roll the pastry around the beef until edges meet.
- Cut off any excess pastry on the sides and then using your fingers, pinch close the ends of the pastry, making sure the beef is fully encased in the pastry and there are no holes.
- Transfer to a baking tray and brush the entire surface of the pastry with the same egg wash from before. You could now place this into the oven to cook or you can alternatively score the pastry or add a lattice over the top to make it look like a spectacle.
Optional: Creating a lattice
- If you want to create a lattice, take another sheet of pastry, large enough to cover the exposed surface of the Beef Wellington and using a sharp knife cut vertical slits/dashes down the pastry to create a lattice effect. You can buy lattice cutters to do this too.
- Carefully drape the lattice over the current pastry and spread it evenly, cutting off any overhang on the sides.
- Spread the egg wash all over, and sprinkle a generous amount of flakey salt.
- Bake in the oven at 220 degrees celsius for 45 minutes or until the pastry is nice and golden brown.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow it to rest for 15 minutes. Slice, serve and the meat should be pink and medium rare.