When my mother-in-law brought home foie gras paté from a trip to France, I was over the moon excited to eat it! I knew I had to do it justice, so I saved it for a special occasion and used it to attempt my first beef wellington. Luckily, it was a huge success and my sister- and brother-in-law both claimed that it was way better than the beef wellington they ate at one of Chef Ramsey’s restaurants. I really encourage you to try this at home, because 1. it’ll be just as delicious with affordable pate, 2. it’s very impressive and perfect for special occasions, and 3. it is surprisingly easy to make! Cooking shows led me to believe that only the most highly trained chefs are capable of pulling off beef wellington. Not true at all. Anyone can make this!
Beef Wellington Recipe
serves 6, adapted from Serious Eats‘ The Ultimate Beef Wellington
2 pound center-cut beef tenderloin (i.e. Châteubriand), trimmed of all of the tough connective tissue (i.e. silverskin) and fat (Note: Ensure that it has an even thickness throughout.)
1 pound of mushrooms, stems removed and caps coarsely chopped (Note: I used cremini, but you could use any mushrooms or combination that you would like.)
120 grams of foie gras paté OR 1 package of other type of paté
1 package of high quality, all butter, frozen puff pastry, thawed, or 1/2 of this homemade puff pastry recipe
1 or 2 sheets of phyllo pastry dough (Note: I used President’s Choice brand.)
several paper-thin slices of prosciutto
1/2 small onion
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup brandy or beef broth
2 teaspoons of soy sauce
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large egg, beaten
all purpose flour
freshly ground black pepper
coarse sea salt
Pat the tenderloin dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron or heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat. Then add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. As soon as the oil hits smoking point, place the tenderloin in the pan. Don’t move it until the first side is nicely browned, up to 2 minutes. Then rotate the tenderloin and repeat this step until all sides have been browned. Transfer the meat to a large plate and set aside.
In a small bowl, stir together 3 tablespoons of dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Then, when the tenderloin is cool enough to handle, use the back of a spoon to spread this mixture all over the tenderloin. Use more dijon mustard as needed. Place the tenderloin in the refrigerator, uncovered.
Place half of the mushrooms in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse until the mushrooms are finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as required. Transfer to a bowl and repeat this step with the remaining mushrooms. Place the onion in the food processor and pulse until finely shredded. Then transfer to the bowl with the mushrooms. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat and add the butter. Once the butter has melted, add the mushroom and onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all of the liquid has evaporated, the mushrooms start to brown, and there are brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. You want the mixture to be very dry, but not burnt. Then add the brandy or stock to deglaze the pan. Scrape up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan and cook until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Then add the heavy cream and soy sauce and cook, stirring frequently until the mixture is very thick and stays in a large mass even when you shake the pan. If your mushroom mixture is too wet, your puff pastry will be soggy.
Place two layers of plastic wrap, about 2 feet x 2 feet on a large cutting board. Lay one sheet of phyllo pastry dough on top of the plastic wrap, in the middle. Ensure that there are no tears in the phyllo as this will help seal in the steam and juices from the meat so that the puff pastry stays crispy. Then place the slices of prosciutto on top of the phyllo pastry in a thin, even, layer with each slice slightly overlapping the previous one. Leave a 2-inch border along the top and the bottom of the phyllo. Ensure that the prosciutto layer is large enough to completely wrap around the tenderloin. (Note: If it isn’t large enough, place a second sheet of phyllo dough on the plastic wrap, overlapping the first sheet of phyllo by about an inch, and add more prosciutto as needed. Then cut off the excess pastry dough.) Spread the paté in a thin and even layer over the prosciutto. Finally, spread the mushroom mixture in a thin and even layer over the paté.
Place the chilled tenderloin along the bottom edge of the layers. Lift up all of the layers and use the syran wrap to roll the tenderloin up in the phyllo, prosciutto, paté and mushroom layers. Be sure to use the syran wrap to wrap the tenderloin and layers very tightly. The technique I used is very similar to how I use a bamboo mat when making Japanese maki rolls. Ensure that there is enough phyllo to completely encase the meat in a single one layer. Cut off excess phyllo as needed. Then twist the ends of the syran wrap very tightly. Use additional sheets of syran wrap if needed to seal the roll tightly. Return the tenderloin to the refrigerator until it has completely chilled through. Note that you could make this one day in advance.
About an hour before you’re ready to put the beef in the oven, dust a large cutting board or counter top with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll out the puff pastry until it is a rectangle that is wide enough to wrap the entire tenderloin. When rolling the dough, to prevent sticking, use the rolling pin to roll outwards (i.e. upwards) starting from the centre. Then pick the dough up off the board, turn it 90 degrees and repeat, adding light dustings of flour to the board and/or to the top of the dough as needed.
Remove the plastic wrap from the beef roll. Place the rolled-up beef along the bottom edge of the puff pastry with the top of the roast facing up (i.e. phyllo seams down). Roll the beef with the puff pastry until the log is completely wrapped up. Ensure that the top of the roast is facing up with the puff pastry seam on the bottom. Use a sharp knife to cut off excess dough. Use your fingers to pinch and press the seam until it is sealed. Now to seal the puffy pastry on both ends of the log. The technique is similar to wrapping the end of a present. Starting with one end, pinch and press the excess puff pastry from the left and right side of the log towards the centre. Use a sharp knife to trim the bottom flap of excess pastry dough and fold it up towards the centre. Then fold the top flap of puff pastry down, over the end of the log, and under the bottom of the log roll. Pinch and press to seal the seam. Repeat for the other end of the log. Transfer the log to a plate, with the top of the roast facing up and the seams on the bottom, and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Place the oven rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Place the beef wellington, top of the roast facing up, onto an aluminum foil-lined (shiny side down) baking sheet. Use a pastry brush to brush the beaten egg all over the puff pastry. Use a sharp paring knife to cut slits into the puff pastry. This is not only decorative, it will allow steam to escape and prevent the puff pastry from getting soggy. Try not to cut through the phyllo layer. Sprinkle coarse sea salt over the puff pastry. Bake until the pastry is nicely browned and puffed up and the centre of the roast registers 110 degrees F for rare or 120 degrees F for medium-rare using an instant read thermometer, about 30 to 45 minutes. Be very careful not to overcook the beef. (Note: If you’re unsure of whether the beef is ready or if you don’t have an instant thermometer, cook it until the puff pastry is just cooked through and lightly browned, then remove it from the oven, cut off the end and see how the meat looks. If it’s too rare for your taste, put it back in the oven for a few minutes as needed. It’s better to undercook the beef, as long as the puff pastry isn’t still raw, than to risk overcooking the beef. Also, I was serving this to people that wanted different degrees of doneness, so I cooked mine to rare, cut a few slices, and then put the rest back in the oven until it was medium-rare.)
Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the wellington to a carving board to rest for a few minutes. Using a large, sharp knife, slice off the ends of the wellington and then carefully cut the wellington into slices. Serve immediately.